AZ Factory READY-TO-WEAR Fall 2023 Collection
London Colville designers Lucinda Chambers and Molly Molloy are this season’s featured Amigos at AZ Factory. Their partnership with the business proposal that the late, greatly missed, Alber Elbaz put up with the Richemont Group felt like a wonderful fit because of their aptitude for creative draping and their sense for how women feel about garments. “We thought it was an amazing honour to be asked,” Chambers remarked. We both had really fond memories of Alber. It was remarkable to operate in such harmony with his crew.
Models strutted around a chamber on the top floor of the Richemont–owned Fondation Cartier while guests rode elevators there. There we saw elements of Elbaz’s characteristic techniques—layering, wrapping, and prints—integrated with Colville’s mature, quirky, engaging aesthetic. A dark olive jersey tunic and a skirt and T-shirt in a petrol blue displayed Elbaz’s interpretation of raw-edged frills collected vertically centre-front.
Recognizable from their typical presentations at Milan Fashion Week, the Colville knack pulls together a wardrobe of mixed-media athletic objects, vintage designs, flowing asymmetric skirts, and inventive accessories. Colville’s unique, artistic sense of style was well expressed by this ensemble, which featured slender dresses layered over slacks, wiggle-patterns and dots translated over airy pleats, and jacquard jackets.
Insight into the project’s inner workings, a one-season ‘guest-appearance’ template that other companies are rapidly following throughout fashion, was only available after the program had concluded. Since Elbaz’s unfortunate demise, all of AZ’s Amigos have been self-employed, creative types that embody the spirit of the label. After Thebe Magugu and Ester Manas and Lutz Huelle, Colville is next in line. Elbaz personally selected the core group of three designers who oversee the in-house production of the designs at AZ Factory.
“They brought all their Alber spirit,” Molloy said. We sensed his arrival and made advantage of their leftover inventory. We had a blast doing it together. Considering that they were having this discussion in Elbaz’s working studio a few floors down, complete with sewing machines and a happy cacophony of images of Elbaz goofing around with pals, and his scrawled aphorisms, it was easy to see why.
Chambers and Molloy discussed how the collection featured a patchwork quilt of a dress made “of shell suits from the ’90s, which we’ve been doing for a while at Colville,” and how the AZ team happily collaborated with “our craft weavers in Colombia” to make straw shopping baskets and small bags. Elbaz was a kind and welcoming man who also had an excellent eye for genuine talent in the field of design. While his passing has left a void, the AZ movement he inspired can continue to have a beneficial impact.