Have you ever thought about what it takes to succeed as a designer? Lanvin’s Albert Elbaz has. In a feature Vogue UK, the creative director muses how he manages in the face of temptation and an insular fashion world to keep it together:
Today, designers are expected to produce work that is bigger, better, faster and — these days — cheaper. 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, most designers have a 20-year-long career, so I need to create about 250 collections in that time. Not even Danielle Steel could write 250 books.
Which is to say, expectations are very high and with a fashion label’s bottom line dependent on the continuity of churning fall and spring outfits, that will ensure a designer is kept very busy. Of course this hardly surprises someone like me, who’s job is to write a barrage of content on a daily basis hoping that it inspires and keeps this fellow’s brand robust. Why then should we reason otherwise for a designer?
But of course there’s the old adage, work hard and play hard….
“You start to understand why some designers do strange things, why some designers talk to themselves, you have to find a way of dealing with it all.” Alber though, knows where to draw the line when it comes to his own coping mechanisms. “I don’t take drugs because if I did I’d love them — I’d be a junkie. And because I’m Jewish, I’d probably be a dealer too,” he joked.
The designer then goes on to muse as to what keeps him in check and on the beaten path and for him and I suggest for so many creative types it falls on the following:
“One day, I received an SMS from a friend in New York — she was in a taxi on the way to court to face her arsehole ex-husband, and she said to me ‘Alber, I am wearing a Lanvin dress, and I feel so protected.’ That to me was the biggest compliment I ever received. To have a 500 gram piece of silk make her feel protected — that made me very happy indeed.”
And perhaps this sums up the journey of an artisan and that of a visionary- the ability to find the one real high in their lives which will sustain them and conversely have you addicted to them. Isn’t being a creative a bitter sweet oxymoron?