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"Love Brings Love": AZ-Factory SS22 Ready To Wear

Words by Jamay Osborn


A mantra of the late Alber Elbaz was “love is love”. The brilliant and talented designer beloved by everyone died at 59 from covid-19 of April this year. A loss that devastated all in fashion, those who knew him, and those who did not, but still loved by all a true visionary in bringing love and passion into fashion. So, it was fitting that his brand AZ-Factory presented a show in his honour. In this case it is fitting that all close friends, colleagues, and peers, including Dries van Noten, Olivier Rousteing, Rick Owens, Iris van Herpen, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Jean Paul Gaultier—and France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron—Paris Fashion Week drew to a deeply poignant but joyful close.


The show was a beautiful scene of fashion's Greats coming together, showing unity and most of all love. The show consisted of 45 designers like Viktor and Rolf, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, off White, Valentino, Schiaparelli, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Rosie Assoulin, Balmain and many more. Elbaz’s design team at AZ Factory came together in celebration of his talent, personality, and design legacy. The show was presented with an all-black runway/backdrop with an ethereal light shining on the models, almost as if Alber was looking over the collection with us.



Some of the designers who presented went for a biography approach. South Africa’s Thebe Magugu, for instance, was inspired by a fall 1997 dress that Elbaz has designed during his two-year tenure at Guy Laroche, whilst other designers like Balmain depicted Elbaz on the bodice of his liquid white satin evening dress. Maria Grazia Chiuri chose to create looks based off Albers fun, playful sketches by embroidering them onto virgin white fabric, integrated into their design. Coordinated by Elbaz’s long term stylist Babeth Dijan, the clothes were shown in alphabetical order. Jean Paul Gaultier went for a couture construction of a red three-dimensional heart bustier, Alessandro Michele’s Gucci dress features two purple hearts floating onto of a matching purple crystal slip dress with ostrich feather to accent the look, while Balenciaga created a bright pink gown with an oversized pink bow on the back of the neck. Viktor & Rolf’s magisterial white trench coat / ballgown that was outlined by graduated hearts arranged on the sleeves and skirts in an ombre of reds and pinks.


Others chose to immortalise Albers’ own iconic look, and his playful dress sense that evoked a silent movie comic with his trademark bowtie, barrel-shaped jackets, and shortened pants. Ralph Lauren re-created their iconic polo bear dressed in Alber’s best. I was happy to see that some re-created my favourite, the “short party dress” in different variations of pink and purple parachute silk. A portrait of the designer on the back that floated on air as the model made her circuit around the Carreau du Temple.


The show closed with the AZ Factory design collective’s powerful tribute of their own, again riffling on the founder’s impactful signature looks, and Amber Valletta embodied the man himself in a jacket cut from the same pattern as the one his team had originally created for him. Its hem embroidered with images of his unforgettable clothes.


In the finale a curtain opened to reveal all the models standing on a three-tier high scaffolding, framing portrait of Elbez as they grooved to O’Jays’s feel-good 1972 classic “Love Train”. There were torrents of heart-shaped confetti and there were torrents of tears. This great man created and changed the way we feel about clothes and brought us back to the true feeling and meaning of clothes - love.



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