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Alber Elbaz's Adieu to Rive Gauche


PARIS — It was a bittersweet moment for Alber Elbaz. Less than a year after presenting his first ready-to-wear Rive Gauche collection for Yves Saint Laurent, the Israeli American designer presented his last for the line.

And it was a swan song of sometimes-ruffled, elegant silk dresses, skirts pleated in the front, lovely coats and tailor-made, classic, double-breasted pinstripe suits for the Saint Laurent woman who stands beside her man, not behind him.

Supple leather shirts, knee-length coat dresses sashed at the waist and leather suits in rich chocolate brown worn with plush fur coats rounded out his collection.

Pastel-yellow chiffon blouses, sheer scarves tied at the neck, a gold satin coat, leather boots and short black gloves added sophistication to Elbaz's last collection for YSL. He also included little understated but modern black dresses and, of course, trousers--a Saint Laurent signature.

For the finale, Elbaz sent out one model in feathered knee-length dress, and another in a black sheer chiffon blouse tied at the neck and worn elegantly with a feathered skirt that sent plumes dancing on the runway and fans racing backstage to congratulate the designer.

Tom Ford, creative director of Gucci and YSL, sat in the front row, wearing Gucci, of course. Ford, who assumed the duties of creative director at the Gucci-owned Yves Saint Laurent Couture house last month, will take on design responsibilities for the Rive Gauche ready-to-wear collection, the company said Thursday. Yves Saint Laurent himself, however, will continue to design the more expensive couture line.

Backstage, Elbaz--as always--asked well-wishers if they liked his collection, which he described as "clothes for the secure woman. Who else can have a career, have children and run a household? Only a woman."

What will Elbaz do now?

"Work. I plan to work. I'm a working man." Then he asked the fashionistas around him, "Will the collection sell?"

"Absolutely," said a woman. "I will buy it."

Said Elbaz, "Then I will continue to work."

Indeed. At show's end, Elbaz--a cuddly man with Kramer-style hair--took a spin around the catwalk, waving and smiling to an appreciative audience who had packed the room at the Carrousel du Louvre to witness his closing act.

As the crowd left, the theme song "Tomorrow," from the musical "Annie," played.

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