Image: Lanvin

In a time slot nestled between Monday evening’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Anna Wintour Costume Institute Gala and Tuesday’s Chanel Cruise 2016/17 show, the latter of which was held in Havana, Cuba, The New School Parsons School of Design in New York hosted a discussion between Paper magazine’s Kim Hastreiter and fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, and celebrated designer Alber Elbaz, who recently left his position as the longtime creative director for Paris-based design house, Lanvin. Here are some excerpts from Mr. Elbaz from the conversation …

On the importance of education: “We need school because we have to give the time and we have to strengthen the muscles. You can’t buy those things.” 

On divas: “People that are divas are usually not the best at what they do. Don’t play games.”

Reflecting on his work: “Everything I did, I only see the mistakes, I never see anything good, so it’s not always easy being me. And only now with the perspective of time, I’m looking at things that I’ve done and I’m like, you know, it wasn’t too bad. I’m experienced … I will leave the judgment if I’m good or bad to fashion critics and fashion directors and buyers.”

On leaving Lanvin: “When I left [Lanvin], for the first couple of months I was walking in Paris; it was raining every day… I was walking and walking and walking and thinking and I never knew when I touched my face if it was the rain or my tears. But there is something fabulous about being free. I was [at Lanvin] 15 years almost seven days a week. A tuna sandwich for lunch and a pizza for dinner. Early mornings and long nights. Traveling after Lanvin, I met so many people and so many of them told me they are are not happy — and it was all fashion people. I’m asking myself, ‘How come so many people in fashion, which is the best job in the world, we are all about beauty, all about fantasy, what is it that makes all of us so neurotic and so unhappy?'”

His advice to young designers: “Use Google, but dream and think afterwards … [and] don’t be a catwalk designer. And making mistakes is the essence of creation. You cannot be sure about what you do, but you have to make mistakes in order for things to happen.”

On having staying power: “I’m watching ‘Project Runway’ and I see Heidi Klum…when she says, ‘one day you’re in and the next you’re out,’ every time I hear it I get nauseous. It’s almost like a trauma to have the idea you can be in fashion and then you’re out. What does it mean? I believe that once you’re here — even for a short time — you leave a trace behind. And when you are good and you are professional, don’t be scared. No one can erase you.”

On fashion: “People think fashion is one big party that never ends. I think it is one big party, but it does end … I don’t want to trash my industry, but something needs to change. Designers are not computers. You can’t just push a button and say, ‘OK be creative.’ I think if we inject a little bit more love into fashion and less fear — because today I feel it’s more about fear, and less love — we will have a beautiful reason to wake up every morning.”