Elbaz was born in 1961 to a Jewish family in Casablanca, his father was a hairdresser and his mother a painter. Together they immigrated to Israel when Elbaz was ten years old. Interested in fashion from a young age, he formally pursued a career in fashion at the age of 24.
Throughout Elbaz’s life, his mother had encouraged him to follow his passion, giving him $800 (MAD 7,120) when he left Israel for New York City in 1985, to work in fashion professionally.
Professionally known for his use of unusual colors, interesting shapes, and inclusive vision, he created stylish clothes for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. As a person, Elbaz was well-loved in the industry, known for his big heart, and well-received in all circles. As the fashion journalist Jess Cartner-Morley put it, “Through three turbulent decades, no one in the industry had a bad word to say about him.”
As for Elbaz’s clientele, many red carpet stars donned his designs. Hollywood actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, and Tilda Swinton, all pulled off his red carpet gowns at major events. Celebrities such as Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and Kim Kardashian have all worn Elbaz’s designs. His close friend, Meryl Steep, wore a golden gown of his design when accepting the Oscar for best actor for her role in The Iron Lady in 2012.
“Alber’s dresses for Lanvin are the only ones that when I wear them, I feel like myself, or even a better version of her,” Streep said in 2015.
In January, Elbaz launched AZ Factory, a brand focused on body positivity, dubbed “smart fashion that cares.”
“The dress that creates a perfect shape – that was yesterday,” he said at the launch. “I don’t want to make clothes that bring more stress to women. I want my dresses to be like hugs.”