Four years of soul-searching seem to have raised more questions than answers for former Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz. One might be forgiven for thinking those questions would be about why he was so unceremoniously – and publicly – ousted from his former position in 2015 after 14 successful years at the helm. Why Alber Elbaz is happily in the spotlight with Tod’s collaboration But the Moroccan-Israeli designer has bigger questions on his mind. “What is the role of designers today? Is it creating or curating? Is it about fame or talent? Is newer always better than older? Can they live in harmony? Does one have to erase the other?”, he mused at the recent Paris launch of his first collaboration with Tod’s Factory, an offshoot of Italian leather goods maker Tod’s. Asia has been so loyal and we thought part of repaying that loyalty was to go back to Asia and launch this there Alber Elbaz The much-loved designer is a little bummed we’re not doing this interview in Hong Kong instead of Paris, but the launch was moved due to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. “Asia has been so loyal and we thought part of repaying that loyalty was to go back to Asia and launch this there. I thought this would have been great because these days, the clients are not coming to you, you are going to them. Unfortunately, you see how politics is changing our agenda everywhere in the world,” says Elbaz. Tod’s Factory teams up with Alber Elbaz for new collection His agenda for the past four years has been mainly travelling, meeting new people and developing new projects that have given him a different perspective on things, something he has found “very interesting”, although the answers he seeks are still a little elusive. “There are no answers,” he says ruefully. “You have to let go. You have to be. This is part of the organic [nature] of swimming in the river, not in the lake. That’s the answer to everything but there are a lot of questions. The more questions you have, I think more and more you train your brain to think and not just reject.” So in many ways, he has been opening himself to new collaborations and projects that may not have been in consideration had he still be with a major atelier. So while searching for himself, Elbaz has found time to work on a perfume with Frédéric Malle, trainers with Converse, bags with LeSportsac, and now a collection of bags and shoes with Tod’s Factory. “I took my time because I didn’t want to do what I’ve had done. I did a perfume. I did [trainers]. Now, the project with Tod’s. I did LeSportsac because it’s not my comfort zone. I want to learn. You know, my dream was to be a doctor, not a designer. Doctors are always people who learn. They never stop because the moment they stop, they cannot discover new cures. So I like the idea of trying new things,” he says. There are no answers. You have to let go. You have to be Alber Elbaz The project with Tod’s came from a meeting with the label’s owner, Diego Della Valle, about two years ago. “Tod’s is Diego and Diego is Tod’s – so I had to find my own role. I’m only doing one project and that’s why I consider myself a super nanny, you know, like the person that comes from the outside and says what she sees. I like the English super nanny. She’s my size and she’s very direct and very honest so I like her,” Elbaz says, cheerfully. Coco Rocha, Olivia Palermo mark Alber Elbaz x Tod’s Happy Moments debut But his role ended up more than just being nanny to a new collection. The first part of Tod’s Happy Moments collection dropped in boutiques in July, with a second to hit stores in September. The collection of bags and shoes is cheerful and playful, and – in a departure from the Italian brand’s usual DNA – a combination of unconventional materials and shapes such as neoprene and chunky soles. Along the way, he has also dyed his hair platinum, and discovered the joys of Instagram, yet another thing that has surprised him. “I think that Instagram is creating this kind of followers thing and we’re all loving the same thing, we would all go to the same place. We all like, but how about love? “You know we get a lot of likes but we forgot that we have to also give love. So there is a big difference between like and love,” says the 58-year-old. “[Instagram founder] Kevin Systrom asked me once if I had Instagram. I said no, because my friends are not photogenic and I don’t like to photograph myself. “But after what happened with Lanvin, and I got so many messages of love on Instagram and they were nice, I said ‘OK, Instagram is also a way to pass a love message’.” The designer’s first post – dated November 2, 2015 – was a way to thank his supporters for their love. Since then he has ventured to some 600 posts, including candid shots with good friends, scribblings, and caricatures of himself. 5 best basket handbags that street style gurus love “My way is to do it personally. My way is not to do it every day. I do what I feel at the moment. It can be very addictive. It’s almost like being naked with clothes. “Changes are good, but you have to make a choice where the changes are, where you want to stand.” Changes are good, but you have to make a choice where the changes are, where you want to stand Alber Elbaz Elbaz has alluded a few times to a “big project” he is working on – to “something really different that I want to start”. Today in Paris, he is unwilling to say more but acknowledges that fashion has changed in the four years he has been away. “We’re living in a moment of fashion as a triumph of communication and marketing,” he continues. “Fashion, first of all, is about design – about designers being in the driving seat. Without good design, there is no bag. Without good design, there are no shoes. There is no dress, or no store, no magazine. So everything starts there.” It does appear that Elbaz may have found some answers after all. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter.