"It was an experiment. I wanted to learn something from it. I felt that there is a huge group of people who never could afford Lanvin. I didn't really want to make Lanvin cheaper, though, but I decided I was going to try to turn H&M into luxury," Elbaz says.
It's easy to wonder whether some fashion designers actually like (much less love) the women they're designing for. We think this every time we try to squeeze into a skinny pant or totter on a particularly high heel. But Elbaz insists that he loves women, all of us, and wants to make clothes that make us happy.
"I never had a muse or said, 'Oh my God, my woman is that and that and she has to be seven and a half feet tall and she has to weigh three kilograms,'" Elbaz says. "I think that women have gotten stronger. I'm not talking about more powerful -- there is a big difference between power and strength. I think men are powerful, I think women are strong. When you are powerful, you buy, you sell, you have it, you lose it, it's external; and I think that strength comes from a different place. It's internal.
More than anything, Elbaz wants his consumer to be comfortable, something he rarely feels himself.
"We are dressmakers and coat makers, and we have to be here to cater to people and help them look and feel good. It's not about reinventing the wheel. It's about making people comfortable. As a designer who is not exactly skinny, I am very sensitive to comfort because I am not comfortable anywhere or with anything," Elbaz says, adding that he isn't a fan of fashion designers who think they're famous and lose track of their consumer.
"I think the biggest danger today in fashion is that people think we are in show business. But it's not show business."
Elbaz doesn't even like the celebrities he dresses, among them Natalie Portman, Rachel McAdams, Blake Lively and Rihanna, to act like celebrities.
"I meet them (celebs) before they have done the movie or after they do the movie, so I meet them at a stage when they are very vulnerable. I meet them when they are excited and when they are depressed, and this is the time when I meet the real true woman and then they are not celebrities -- they are just women. And I love women," Elbaz says.
Go to PaperMag.com for the full interview.