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Creative director Elbaz quits French fashion house Lanvin after 14 years

François Guillot, AFP | Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz in Paris on September 27, 2012

Alber Elbaz is to leave Lanvin after 14 years as its creative director, the Paris-based fashion house said Wednesday, fuelling rumours he might take over the vacant seat at Christian Dior.

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"Lanvin and Alber Elbaz have ended their collaboration after 14 years," a company spokesman told AFP, confirming a report in the industry publication WWD that the 54-year-old Moroccan-born Israeli was to leave.

A later statement from Lanvin thanked Elbaz for the "chapter he wrote in a 125-year history".

French and American media carried a letter from the stylist confirming he had left Lanvin due to "a decision made by its majority shareholder", Chinese billionaire Shaw-Lan Wang.

In it he wishes Lanvin the "bright future it deserves among the biggest French luxury brands".

His departure comes less than a week after Raf Simons quit Christian Dior and will add to industry speculation that Elbaz might be seeking to fill his shoes at another of France's biggest fashion names.

Elbaz succeeded Spanish designer Cristina Ortiz at Lanvin – France's oldest fashion house still in operation – in 2001.

The same year, cosmetics giant L'Oreal sold the brand to a group of investors headed by Wang.

It is believed Elbaz – praised for his draped styles for Lanvin and admired for his affable demeanour in the high-strung fashion world – held talks with Dior when it was seeking a replacement for British designer John Galliano.

He was sacked in 2011 following an anti-Semitic outburst at a Paris cafe.

But WWD reported that those talks came to nothing because Elbaz had a stake in Lanvin through a holding controlled by Wang, which proved to be a stumbling block to a deal.

The departures of Elbaz and Simons cap a turbulent year in the haute couture sector.

In October, Balenciaga named German wunderkind Demna Gvasalia as its new creative director to replace American designer Alexander Wang.

(AFP)

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