Alber Elbaz talks career beginnings

Alber Elbaz felt like a “dog waiting for his master” while working with the late Geoffrey Beene.

The successful designer was presented with the 50th anniversary Geoffrey Beene Fashion Impact Award at a 2013 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund dinner earlier this week.

Whereas Alber has now made a name for himself by working for luxury label Lanvin, he can remember the struggles he faced at the start of his career.

The Moroccan-born designer worked for legendary fashion mogul Geoffrey for seven years, and looked back at the initial difficulties he had to overcome.

“[I was told there was] no place for me in the office or in the studio,” he explained in his acceptance speech, before adding he was put in a dressing room with a coffee table for a desk.

“I sat there sketching for a week and no one even said hi to me... [I was told my sketches] were, ‘Not very Geoffrey Beene.’ I cried and I waited to be fired... [But]he [Geoffrey] saw my work and said to give it to Charlie, his head of atelier, which is the first time that had ever been done. It was a huge honour... I would do a sketch, leave it on his desk, he would resketch it... I was like a little dog waiting for his master.”

Following his time at Geoffrey’s New York City studio, Alber went on to work for Yves Saint Laurent and finally, Lanvin.

Despite a rocky start, the designer has fond memories of Geoffrey.

“We had a very special relationship and some very beautiful moments together. Everything I know, he taught me. It was a very good school and like a home away from home. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve worked with Mr. Beene and Mr. Saint Laurent, the very best,” he told WWD.

“[What would he think of my career now?] I think he would have been very happy, proud and content.”

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