Alber’s thoughts may have reflected his violent disagreements with Ms. Wang over the future direction of the brand, which he had so powerfully reinvented. In 2015, shortly after Alber received his Superstar Award, his 14-year relationship with Lanvin came to a shockingly abrupt end. The fashion industry was amazed when he wasn’t caught by another powerful brand, but perhaps an injured Alber was waiting for his time.
He worked with Frederic Malle on a fragrance; Alber wanted to recreate “the smell or scent of a dress”. When I met with him to discuss it, Alber had just returned from his Legion d’honneur ceremony – his second. In fact, he received an “upgrade” (he was now Officier de la Legion D’Honneur).
“I take my time,” Alber explained when I asked him about his thoughts on getting back into the fashion business. “I really think about what I want to do next time and how I want to work, what I am missing and what we are lacking in fashion. And how can we do better? I question a lot. I question the system. I mean is it right to do all these shows? Is it right to play six seasons a year? What do women want? How do women dress? “
“You know, I really miss fashion,” he told me. “I may have had to get away from fashion to feel like I was back, but on my own terms… it’s not about an ongoing and ongoing system; It’s about changing something in the system that isn’t working. You know, my dream was to become a doctor, so it’s about diagnosing what isn’t working and then finding a solution. “
While Alber bided his time, a new generation of fashion consumers had grown up in the fast-paced game without knowing its name or understanding its legacy. A trip to Silicon Valley was a revelation for Alber. Can tradition and technology coexist? he wondered after this visit. Is fashion still relevant today? And you know what? The answer is yes, a big, big yes.
At the Forces of Fashion Summit 2020 I met Alber for high tea at the Paris Ritz to discuss his new creative idea for the brand of the Swiss luxury group Richemont. We sat at the end of a long table (Alber was crazy about health logs), with empty seats for the dream tea party: Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Greta Thunberg, Jane Bomb (the female James Bond), et al. Alber revealed the name of the brand – AZ Factory, took the first and last letters of his name and proposed an extensive laboratory for ideas and new concepts. During our tea, Alber promised “no revolution, no evolution – a reset”.