What a fashion match made in heaven! Designer Alber Elbaz, whose groundbreaking tenure at the Parisian house of Lanvin made him a household name, has teamed with iconic American brand LeSportsac. The LeSportsac collection was founded in 1974, and is of course known for signature lightweight bags and luggage made from ripstop parachute nylon. In recent years, the brand has become known for their collaboration collections filled with accessories splashed with prints by various artists. But none quite as exciting as the Alber Elbaz collection we're urging you to preorder now (on the LeSportsac website).
On a sunny day in May, I was invited to visit New York's picturesque Gramercy Park Hotel to preview the much anticipated collection in a most magical setting. The hotel's penthouse suite was filled with red and white anemones, their centers punctuated with black, in a color scheme that is very Elbaz and that permeates the collection itself. Editors and bloggers were invited to create their own bouquets of blooms and attach an array of stickers to the rich red and brown craft paper that enveloped each, along with printed tissue featuring the designer's sketches. Stickers that read "chic", "kiss", and a sticker bearing Elbaz's signature eye design were amongst the offerings.
Stickers feature Alber Elbaz's signature scrawl.
I was happy to be introduced to each piece in the collection by the brand's Creative Director, D'Arcy Jensen, and I asked her what it was like working with one of fashion's most prolific artists: "In our first meeting, Alber brought an image of LeSportsac that he found on the Internet. It was a very iconic ad from the 70's and one of my favorite images. I love that he drilled down to our DNA and used that as his inspiration." I was not surprised to hear that "Alber is witty and a great storyteller. Whether telling an ironic story about a family member’s LeSportsac bag or our funny discussions about current events while eating sushi, it was always a joy to be around him". This had me dreaming about a moment where I, too, could pick the brain of this fashion genius over Japanese fare. A bucket list lunch break, indeed.
The collection features bags comprised of six different prints. "Dance With Me" features words and sketches of women; "Love Me Kiss Me" features hearts and words; "Big Kiss" comes in two colors and features the word "kiss" and lips; and "Color Me" features vivid zebra and leopard prints in both red and in blue. I talked to Jensen about Elbaz's one-of-a-kind sketches and scrawls: "I loved watching Alber sketch, seeing his whimsical designs come to life right before my eyes (and all done with a sharpie!). Not only did Alber sketch designs like “the girls” and his iconic face which became our bag charms, he also used illustration as a form of expression. As we discussed other aspects of the project, like our launch event, he would illustrate his ideas as he spoke... rendering balloons and confetti, dancing girls and DJ's".
As rose-hued beverages topped with decorative garnish were passed alongside breakfast hors d'oeuvres, I began to zero in on my favorite pieces in the collection: a blue leopard print backpack; a cosmetics pouch to match; a red leopard travel bag with shoulder straps covered in the designer's fancy script. It became instantly apparent to me that something special happened during this particular collaboration: a covet-worthy collection was born, the result of two distinct design entities colliding in absolute perfect harmony.
Jensen explained that Elbaz "wanted the collection to be for every woman. Alber is known for his love of women and that truly came out in the process. To collaborate on this level with someone who embraced this was a joy. We talked a lot about the devoted fans of LeSportsac, and about the heritage of the brand. What resulted is a collection that has a little something for everyone, from fashionistas to super-fans."
I'll be keeping that thoughtful and passionate take on design in mind when I myself, carry one of these bags from the collection that is destined to become a collector's item. -Tamara Rappa