When Tilda Swinton and Chloë Sevigny were nominated for their Oscars, both chose to wear designs by Alber Elbaz, the beloved designer who died this weekend at the age of 59 from Covid-19. For a certain segment of the fashion world, that might just say it all, but Elbaz’s designs weren’t just for the cool girls. Women of all stripes simply loved wearing his designs, especially on the red carpet. First coming to attention with a three-season stint at Yves Saint Laurent between 1998 and 2000, Elbaz’s biggest contribution was reviving the storied French house of Lanvin between 2001 and 2015. When Beyoncé shocked the world with her first pregnancy reveal at the red carpet of the MTV VMAs, she chose to do so in an orange Lanvin gown. Emma Stone, too, was a major fan of Elbaz’s Lanvin designs during her rise to stardom, wearing the label to two Golden Globes. Kim Kardashian attended her second Met Gala in Lanvin. Stars as varied as Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Ellen Pompeo, Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep (who wore Elbaz’s dresses to the Oscars multiple times, including when she won for The Iron Lady) were all repeat costumers. Perhaps most tellingly, even stars who had official relationships with other major houses still found time to wear Elbaz’s work.
It’s not hard to see why. Elbaz’s designs added just enough glamour and drama to a dress without the risk of wearing the wearer, or, perhaps worse, coming off boring. They were sophisticated, interesting garments that conveyed a unique point of view without overdoing it. It’s worth noting that often, they seemed quite comfortable, relatively speaking, too. In other words, they were the platonic ideal of what many were looking for when it came to red carpet dressing (his menswear work at Lanvin also attracted numerous fans, including Pharrell Williams).
Here, a look back at some of Elbaz’s greatest red carpet moments—although, perhaps, not a complete one. It’s truly hard to underestimate just how beloved his designs were for red carpet occasions.