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聚光灯下的Lanvin设计师

In the Spotlight’s Glare
聚光灯下的Lanvin设计师

AT Via Quadronno, an Upper East Side cafe noted for its cappuccinos, Alber Elbaz was loosely discussing the difference between designing for women who are strong, as when he started his career, and for women who are powerful, as in today, when a powerful looking woman named Ester recognized him.

在纽约上东区以卡布奇诺而闻名的咖啡馆“维阿·卡多诺”里,阿尔伯·艾尔巴茨(Alber Elbaz)谈及为不同类型的女人设计时装的区别——职业生涯早期,他曾为健美的女人设计时装,如今则是专为强势的女人而设计。谈话间,果真有位相貌强势的女士认出了他,这位女士名叫艾斯塔。

Approaching his table, Ester congratulated Mr. Elbaz on his success as the designer of Lanvin, the Paris-based fashion house, and told him that, like him, she was born in Morocco. She then blessed him, speaking in Hebrew. Later, when Mr. Elbaz asked for the check, he was told that Ester, a regular at the restaurant, had already paid the bill and left.

艾斯塔来到艾尔巴茨桌前,恭喜他在法国时尚品牌Lanvin所取得的成就,她还说,她和他一样在摩洛哥出生,并用希伯来语祝福了他。后来艾尔巴茨结账的时候,侍者告诉他,艾斯塔是这家咖啡馆的常客,已经为他结过账,人已经走了。
 

Lanvin设计师阿尔伯·艾尔巴茨在皇冠酒店给模特试衣。Barneys时装展将展出他过去十年内为Lanvin所设计的部分作品。

“But I must thank her!” Mr. Elbaz, looking crestfallen, told the waiter.

“可我总得向她致谢吧!” 艾尔巴茨有点难为情地对侍者说。

He extracted a black marker and a piece of paper from a zippered navy snakeskin pouch, which functioned like a briefcase, and quickly sketched a portrait of the woman. It included a pearl necklace and her Chanel bag, the quilting rendered as crosshatching and a logo of interlocking “C’s” dangled from the side. He also drew a caricature of himself, with a big circular cartoon head framed by glasses and an oversize bow tie. This he left for Ester with his gratitude.

他拿过被他当做公文包的深蓝色蛇皮小包,拉开拉链,取出黑色签字笔和一张纸,飞快地画了一幅那位女士的肖像。他把她的珍珠项链和香奈儿(Chanel)手袋也画了进去,包包用十字交叉衍缝装饰,交织的“双C”标志从一边垂下来。他还画上了自己的漫画头像,圆圆的大头非常卡通,戴着眼镜和特大的蝴蝶领结。他用这种方式向艾斯塔致谢。

The waiter, not recognizing Mr. Elbaz, looked at it as if it were a child’s drawing, and put it in a drawer.

侍者并不认识艾尔巴茨,他像看儿童涂鸦一样看了看这幅画,把它塞进抽屉。

The key to understanding the success and longevity of Mr. Elbaz, a nice guy who did not finish last, comes down to this: “I never think people should do things for me,” he said during an interview at the cafe last week. “I think I should do things for others. That makes me more comfortable.”

艾尔巴茨是那种总能有好报的好人,上星期在那家咖啡馆里,他在接受采访时总结自己成功和长盛不衰的关键:“我从来不觉得别人理所应当要为我做事。我应该为别人做事情,这样让我觉得更舒服。”

他曾经像个受虐待的孩子

Much of what has been written about Mr. Elbaz on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as the designer of Lanvin, a milestone that normally might merit a mention somewhere near the classifieds, could illustrate what is a rare example in the catty fashion industry of the Buddhist concept of mudita, or taking pleasure in another person’s good fortune. These days, everyone seems to love him, and naturally, that makes him uncomfortable.

艾尔巴茨在Lanvin做设计师已经有10个年头,这种里程碑式的成就完全应该在报纸分类广告旁边的位置登个贺文。不少最近关于他的文章都把他描述成阴险狡狯的时尚界里一个罕见的典型:慈眉善目的欢喜佛,看到别人交了好运自己也跟着高兴。这些日子以来,好像人人都爱他,这当然让他觉得很不自在。

At a time when many designers believe that their roles are being marginalized in favor of competing corporate interests, the success of Mr. Elbaz, a charming, gallant, hard-working, self-deprecating guy who, by the way, claims to have never used drugs, has been heralded a triumph of talent over the excesses of luxury marketing. This is a designer, after all, who reportedly turned down Dior and the promise of designing couture last year when the headhunters came knocking because he could not betray the company that invested in him when his own stock was down.

如今这个时代,不少设计师都觉得自己的地位渐渐边缘化,让位给竞争激烈的集团利益。而艾尔巴茨,这个可爱、豪爽、勤奋而又善于自嘲的人(而且自称从不吸毒)所取得的成功表明,个人才华完全可以战胜奢侈品市场上的种种过分行为。据报道,当猎头公司找上门来时,这位设计师曾经拒绝迪奥(Dior)的邀请与加入该品牌高级订制工坊的许诺,他不想背叛自己的公司,只因为公司当年曾在他身价大跌时向他伸出橄榄枝。

In Mr. Elbaz, who, at 50, is still as compulsively neurotic as a teenager about his appearance — which most would describe as cuddly (though he would just say fat) — the tendency to put himself beneath others can be to a fault. No mirror goes passed without reflecting a mistake. No compliment goes undeflected by a joke about his weight. No assurance goes undoubted. And no gesture of appreciation goes unmatched by Mr. Elbaz, who once, after a sales meeting with Neiman Marcus, grabbed a bouquet of flowers and chased down the buyer in the streets of Paris because he believed he had been unprepared.

艾尔巴茨今年50岁,却仍像十几岁的少年一样对自己的外表有些神经兮兮。大家都说他长得“亲切”,不过他却说自己只是“肥胖”而已。他总觉得自己长相不如别人,有时可能有点过分了。无论哪次照镜子,他都会挑自己的毛病;无论何时听见恭维,他都会开个关于自己体重的玩笑;无论谁赌咒发誓,他都会提出质疑;无论谁表达感激,诚意都没法与他相比。有一次他去内曼·马库斯(Neiman Marcus)店里开销售会议,会后抓起一大把花束在巴黎街头狂奔,想要献给那位买了自己产品的买主,因为他觉得自己对这次会议准备得不够充分。

Mr. Elbaz was already in the middle of a semi-successful career when, in 2001, he was hired at Lanvin by Shaw-Lan Wang, the Taiwanese publisher who owns the label and who is reverentially referred to by employees as Madame Wang.

2001年,Lanvin公司的拥有者、台湾出版商王效兰雇下了当时在事业上不太得意的艾尔巴茨。如今,公司雇员们满怀敬意地称他们的老板为“王夫人”。

Madame Wang, who is rarely present in the Paris atelier, gave Mr. Elbaz the freedom to build the label as he pleased. With little interference, he has revitalized Lanvin, making it a power player in French fashion, with an outsize reputation that belies its relatively small size.

王夫人很少出现在巴黎的工作室里,她给了艾尔巴茨很大自由,让他随心所欲地去建设品牌。在没有外部干涉的情况下,艾尔巴茨让Lanvin焕发出新的活力,成为法国时尚界的一支生力军,虽然规模不算大,但名气相当不小。

He had previously been the handpicked successor to Yves Saint Laurent, at the point when Mr. Saint Laurent gave up ready-to-wear to focus on couture in the late 1990s. But then, when Tom Ford and the Gucci Group took over the house in 1999, Mr. Elbaz was fired the next year, an event that has seemingly had a lasting, practically mythological, effect on his career. As he has said, when he started at Lanvin, he would from then on only do things that he loved, and “no more marketing research.”

20世纪90年代末,他曾是伊夫·圣罗兰(Yves Saint Laurent)钦点的接班人,当时圣罗兰先生已经放弃了成衣业,专注于高级订制。但1999年汤姆·福特(Tom Ford)与古驰(Gucci)集团收购了YSL,艾尔巴茨也于翌年被解雇。这件事对他的事业产生了深远影响,甚至有几分传奇的味道。他自己解释说,当他在Lanvin起步时,终于可以只做自己喜欢的事,“不必再去做市场调研了。”

“He was like an abused child,” said Kim Hastreiter, a founder of Paper magazine, who has known Mr. Elbaz since he was an assistant to Geoffrey Beene more than 20 years ago.

“他那时有点像个被虐待的孩子,”《Paper》杂志创办人之一基姆·哈斯特莱斯塔(Kim Hastreiter)在20多年前就认识了给杰弗里·比尼(Geoffrey Beene)当助手的艾尔巴茨,她这样回忆说。

Lanvin operates like a small family business, with Mr. Elbaz, who has a hand in every product design, right down to the window displays, describing himself as “the mommy” in the relationship, and Madame Wang as “the daddy.” When the Dior job came into play last year, after the dismissal of John Galliano, there was enormous speculation about the future of the house until Raf Simons, the former designer of Jil Sander, was hired this April. Mr. Elbaz had been one of the names most frequently floated by editors and retailers, along with Haider Ackermann and Mr. Simons.

Lanvin的运营方式有点像小型家族企业,艾尔巴茨要参与所有产品的设计,连橱窗展示也要管,他说自己扮演的是“妈咪”的角色,而王夫人则是“爸爸”。去年迪奥炒了约翰·加利亚诺(John Galliano),首席设计师虚位以待,关于品牌的未来有许多猜测,直到Jil Sander的前任设计师拉夫·西蒙斯(Raf Simons)于今年4月上任才告平息。那段时间艾尔巴茨和西蒙斯以及海德·艾克曼(Haider Ackermann)一样,经常被时尚编辑和小道消息传播者们同迪奥联系在一起。

Though it was not entirely clear that Mr. Elbaz was ever offered a job to turn down — he can be maddeningly vague on the subject, saying, “It doesn’t matter, so don’t go there,” when pressed for details — he said there was little to appeal to him to rejoin a large conglomerate (the label is controlled by Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH), apart from the possibility of designing for one of the few remaining houses with an active couture atelier attached.

迪奥是否真的曾经邀请艾尔巴茨出任这份工作并遭到他的拒绝,此事至今尚不清晰——一提起这个话题,他就开始含糊其辞,简直令人恼火:“这没什么大不了的,别再念叨了吧。”逼问他更多细节,他只说重新加入一个大企业集团(迪奥目前由LVMH首席执行官伯纳德·阿诺尔特控股)对他来说没什么吸引力,不过能为一个拥有活跃的高级订制服工作室的时装屋做设计,这一点确实蛮让他动心,因为这样的时装屋如今已不多见。

“But I could not say to them, mommy’s getting divorced now,” Mr. Elbaz said.

“但我总不能告诉他们,妈妈要离婚了。”艾尔巴茨说。

幕后与幕前发生的事差不多一样重要

His decade at Lanvin has been celebrated this spring with a grand party in Paris that followed his runway show, Lanvin-themed window displays at Barneys New York that included an eight-foot-tall statue of the designer overlooking Madison Avenue last month, and now the publication of a 700-page coffee-table book focused solely on the creation of his most recent collection.

他在Lanvin已经满10年了,纪念庆典包括今年春天在巴黎举行的时装秀和其后的盛大派对;4月份巴尼斯纽约精品店(Barneys New York)Lanvin主题的橱窗展上为他树立了一尊8英尺高的雕像,俯视着麦迪逊大街;最近他又出版了一本700页的画册,内容全是关于他近期时装展中的新作。

While he appears to be at ease under the spotlight, he never does reveal too much. His comments, after a while, may even start to come across as scripted; he often repeats the same stories with the same punch lines. Ms. Hastreiter of Paper said she suspects the jokes are something of a coping mechanism of a designer who wasn’t seeking out the fame he has found. One of his best lines, delivered to an audience at Barneys for a trunk show in April, concerns the period after he was fired from YSL, when he considered becoming a doctor.

聚光灯下,他显得轻松自在,但你会发现他并没有透露多少东西。聊一会儿,你就会感觉他说话有些像在念讲稿;他经常重复讲述同样的故事,连最好笑的段子都一模一样。《Paper》的哈斯特莱斯塔女士说她觉得那些笑话是设计师的一种自我保护机制,用来应付他本来并不追求的盛名。他说的一个最好笑的段子,是4月在巴尼斯精品店的非公开时装秀上讲给观众们听的。他说被伊夫·圣罗兰品牌解雇后,他曾经考虑去当个医生。

“I thought, I love Advil, and I like Tylenol,” he said. “I should share it with everyone.”

“我想,我喜欢爱得卫(Advil)止痛药,我也喜欢泰诺(Tylenol)感冒药,”他说,“这么好的药,该和所有人分享啊。”

The degree to which designers are exposed, and expose themselves, is something Mr. Elbaz was thinking about very carefully when he prepared his last collection. He was concerned about the pace at which designers are producing collections, and also about the number of his colleagues who were facing conflicts with their employers, often over creative demands.

设计师应该在多大程度上受到媒体曝光,在多大程度上袒露自我,这是艾尔巴茨在筹备最新一批时装展作品时悉心考虑的问题。他关心其他设计师推出新品的频率,也关注那些和雇主发生摩擦的同行,他们之间的矛盾通常和创作有关。

During the weeks before his show, Mr. Simons was fired from Jil Sander, after the company had held secret negotiations with the designer Jil Sander to return to the brand, and Stefano Pilati, the most recent designer at YSL, was also let go at the end of his contract, an outcome that had been rumored for years.

西蒙斯在自己的时装秀上演几周前,被Jil Sander品牌炒掉了,此前公司曾和原设计师吉尔·桑达秘密谈判了几次,想请他回自己创立的这个品牌。伊夫·圣罗兰最新的设计师斯特凡诺·皮拉蒂(Stefano Pilati)也曾在合同末期遭到解雇,此前他将被解雇的传言已经传了好几年。

“The behind the scenes is almost becoming as important as the scene,” Mr. Elbaz said. “It is like, when we are at the shows today, what we see the editors wearing is almost more important than what they are seeing on the runway. In art, the curators are becoming more important than the artists. Now it becomes about how you put your show together, and not about what you show.”

“幕后与幕前发生的事差不多一样重要,”艾尔巴茨说,“就好像我们今天在秀场上看到的时尚编辑们,她们穿什么衣服,甚至比T台上模特穿什么更重要。在艺术领域里,策展人开始变得比艺术家更重要。现在最关键的是你该怎样把你要展示的东西组织好,而不是你所展示的具体的东西。”

His show, the night of March 2, encapsulated his thinking about fashion over 10 years. When he started designing that collection, he thought generally about the words “the house of Lanvin,” which might call to mind the signatures he has created for the house, the jewelry veiled in chiffon, the gently ruched dresses, the widely flattering shapes or perhaps some of the more unconventional gowns Mr. Elbaz has created for the Oscars red carpet, like the one-sleeved black velvet gown worn by Tilda Swinton in 2008, or, this year, Meryl Streep’s loose gold asymmetrical dress, which was inspired by the idea of casually throwing on a scarf. (In a bit of a fashion coup, Lanvin also dressed Jean Dujardin, who won for best actor; Ms. Streep won for best actress.)

他的时装秀在3月2日晚上举行,这次时装发布浓缩了10余年来他对时尚的想法。当他开始设计这批时装时,脑子里主要考虑的概念是“Lanvin时装屋”,他希望人们想起他为这个品牌时装屋所确立的特色:珠宝上蒙着雪纺绸、细褶连衣裙、非常合体的衣服、或者他为奥斯卡红毯走秀设计的一些非传统样式的长礼服。比如2008年蒂尔达·斯文顿(Tilda Swinton)那件单袖黑丝绒长礼服,或者今年梅丽尔·斯特里普(Meryl Streep)那件宽松不对称金色长裙,在设计这袭长裙时,他的理念是在身上随意披一条长巾。(今年Lanvin大获成功,在奥斯卡颁奖礼上Lanvin为让·杜雅尔丹【Jean Dujardin】提供了时装,最后他获得最佳男主角奖;斯特里普则获得最佳女主角奖。)

For that fall 2012 collection, the designer peeled back his thinking even further to the underpinnings of the house, and began making dresses from a nylon material normally used for making bras, which became the opening of his show. While he initially thought of darker colors, and black, he ultimately wanted to make a statement about color, and ended up completing the collection with a series of jewel-tone cocktail dresses, many emblazoned with jewelry accents in the shape of tiger’s heads or with waves of thick ruffles.

为筹备2012年秋季时装发布,艾尔巴茨进一步抽丝剥茧,深化自己的想法,他在思索时装屋的基础为何。他把一种通常用在文胸上的尼龙面料用在外衣上,这套服装成了这次时装发布的开场秀。他本想使用深色和黑色,最后还是决定使用色彩发表宣言,本次发布的结尾,是一系列珠宝色调的鸡尾酒裙,大都以珠宝色的老虎头图案或厚重的褶裥花边进行装饰。

“I want to make great clothes and dress women in a way that is modern, though I am tired of that word,” Mr. Elbaz said. “Does modern have to mean hard and harsh? Or can modern also mean pink chiffon?”

“我想做出很棒的衣服,用一种现代的方式去装扮女性,尽管我已经厌倦了‘现代’这个词,”艾尔巴茨说,“难道‘现代’就只能意味着强硬和粗糙?粉色雪纺绸就不是‘现代’?”

While it was a major collection for Mr. Elbaz, what fashion people will remember most about that show, held in a cavernous event space on the edge of Paris, was the ending.

这是艾尔巴茨一次重要的时装发布,发布会在巴黎郊区一处宏大的场地举行,其中最值得时尚界人士久久铭记的是它的结尾。

As the models took their finale turn, Mr. Elbaz stepped on stage and began to sing the opening lines of “Que Será Será,” which he said was a tribute to all the people in fashion who had helped him achieved his dream. Then Joey Arias, the cabaret singer and performance artist, took over as Mr. Elbaz walked down the runway, occasionally turning in a circle, as editors and celebrities cheered him along from the darkened sidelines. Mr. Elbaz later said he was also sending a message to other designers who have been through troubled times.

模特们走最后一圈的时候,艾尔巴茨走上舞台,开始唱西班牙歌曲《天意难违》(Que Será Será)的头几句,他说这是献给时尚界所有曾经帮助过他实现梦想的人们。随后卡巴莱歌手、表演艺术家乔伊·阿里亚斯(Joey Arias)登台献唱,艾尔巴茨走下T台,在台下转了一圈,编辑和名流们在黑暗的场边向他献上祝贺。艾尔巴茨后来说,他的举动是在向其他身处困境的设计师们传递信息。

“It’s very difficult and I’ve been there myself,” Mr. Elbaz said. “It’s very difficult when people are writing that you are part of history. You are dealing with people and emotions here, not robots.”

“这一行真的很辛苦,他们曾经历的困境,我也都曾经历过,”艾尔巴茨说,“当人们在杂志上说你已经成为历史的一部分时,你真的会觉得很痛苦。你面对的是活生生的人,是真实的情感,不是机器人。”

时过境迁,我们都变了

ON an unusually windy April evening, Mr. Elbaz was sitting in a sedan parked outside the London Terrace apartment building in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Inside, in a penthouse apartment with sweeping views of the city, Mark Lee, the chief executive of Barney’s, was giving a party in his honor.

在一个风大得有点离谱的四月夜晚,艾尔巴茨坐的小轿车停在曼哈顿切尔西的“伦敦平台”公寓外。公寓的顶楼房间可以俯瞰整个城市的风景,巴尼斯的首席执行官马克·李(Mark Lee)就在那里为他举办一场致敬派对。

Mr. Lee had been part of the Gucci team that took over YSL, when Mr. Elbaz still had two years remaining on his contract. It had been a tough moment for him, particularly when he read an anonymous comment in Women’s Wear Daily, based on reports that Mr. Ford was about to take over the collection, that quoted someone in the Gucci camp saying, “If you buy a Ferrari, you don’t ask your friend to drive it.”

马克·李曾是古驰集团收购伊夫·圣罗兰团队中的一员,那时艾尔巴茨在伊夫·圣罗兰的合同还有两年才到期。当时对艾尔巴茨来说非常难熬,他经历的最大的一次打击,是在《女装日报》(Women’s Wear Daily)上读到了几篇关于福特先生有意全盘接管伊夫·圣罗兰时装设计的报道,报道中引用了古驰集团内部某个匿名消息来源的评述:“如果你买了一辆法拉利,那你绝不会让你的朋友去开它。”

As the guests, mostly the top editors of fashion magazines, began to arrive at the party, Mr. Elbaz experienced what he later described as an anxiety attack.

众多受邀的时尚杂志编辑开始陆续抵达派对,艾尔巴茨开始感到阵阵焦虑。

“I was sitting in the car for 15 minutes, just because, you know, these people were coming for me,” Mr. Elbaz said.

“我在轿车里坐了15分钟,只因为这些人都是为我而来的,”他后来这样描述。

When he finally went upstairs, the night became something of a comedy of errors. An artwork propped against a wall fell over and smashed when a stiff wind blew through the penthouse apartment. Sparklers on a birthday cake set off the fire alarm, drawing a less-than-amused response from the fire department. A toilet overflowed. Of all moments, this was the one when Mr. Elbaz chose to settle an old score.

后来他终于上了楼,这场派对开始变成一场充满谬误的喜剧。大风吹过顶层房间,一幅挂在墙上的艺术品掉了下来。生日蛋糕蜡烛燃烧的烟雾引发了火警,引来了消防部门绝非愉快的响应。一个马桶堵了。一连串小插曲发生,而艾尔巴茨偏偏选中这么一个时刻来算旧账。

“Just to remind everybody,” Mr. Elbaz said as the cake was cut, “Mark fired me 12 years ago.”

“我只是想提醒大家,”切开蛋糕时艾尔巴茨说,“马克在12年前炒了我。”

Though the comment sucked the air out of the room, Mr. Lee was good-natured about the incident. Somehow, it just came out, Mr. Elbaz said, when reminded of that moment. In retrospect, he said that Mr. Lee and Mr. Ford had changed his destiny.

这句话让屋子里气氛陡然一变,马克·李好脾气地应付着这起“事故”。随后艾尔巴茨话锋一转,他说,回想起那个时刻,他觉得李和福特改变了自己的命运。

“We have a history and, yes, he fired me, but time goes by and we change,” Mr. Elbaz said. “When things like this happen, it’s your choice whether you are going to be a victim or move on. I am much happier today than I was before.”

“我们之间有一段过去,是的,他炒了我,但时过境迁,我们都变了,”艾尔巴茨说,“发生了这种事情时,你需要自己做出选择,是选择当个受害者,还是选择继续前行。今天的我要比以前更快乐。”

The reason for that, he said, is having a sense of freedom at Lanvin, and ownership of its success or failure. That said, he doesn’t mind being asked about other jobs, and, at one point, he mentioned he has been approached by other houses since Dior. So will he stay at Lanvin forever?

他说,这是因为在Lanvin更自由,可以主宰它的成功与失败。此外,他并不介意别的职位向他招手,他提到自从Dior的事情之后,其他时装屋也接洽过他。那么,他愿意永远留在Lanvin吗?

“I want to say yes,” he said. “It’s like, when you marry someone, you swear you are going to spend the rest of your life with that person. I will say yes, but you know, you never know.”

“我很想说‘我愿意’,”他说,“感觉就像你和某人结婚时发誓要和她共度余生。我一定会说‘我愿意’,但你永远不知道今后会发生什么。”
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