In London over the weekend, Alber Elbaz admitted to a somewhat startled crowd at the Royal Opera House that the life of a designer is assuredly not all about glamour. In one of a series of talks curated by director Mike Figgis for the Deloitte Ignite arts festival, the Lanvin designer explained that the culture of fashion breeds a compulsive addiction to designing that he feels his contemporaries understand, too.
Contrasting fashion to other creative fields, Elbaz declared, “A singer can quit once he or she has made ten great songs. A director can finish once he or she has made five amazing films. A writer just needs to write three great books. Now, let’s look at designers. They produce six to eight shows a year. Nost designers have a 20-year-long career, so I need to create about 250 collections. Not even Danielle Steel could write 250 books.”
While Elbaz admitted that many designers develop odd coping mechanisms (like talking to themselves) to deal with industry pressures, he affirmed, “I do not take drugs because if I did, I’d be a junkie,” then quipped, “and because I’m Jewish, I’d probably be a dealer, too.”
His opening remarks, though, were probably most effective. Despite going into detail how he finds purpose in the rewards of a successful design career (happy customers, artistic fulfillment), the monologue began with the rather direct statement, “I don’t understand this marathon of fashion.” Stressed or not, we think the Lanvin champion still has a pretty sweet gig. And probably enough creative talent to bang out those 250 collections, after all.
Here’s the full 10-minute speech…