Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz was laid to rest in the central city of Holon on Wednesday, four days after he succumbed to COVID at the age of 59 in Paris.
The designer's funeral was attended by hundreds of family, friends and artists, as he was buried alongside his parents in the city where he was raised after immigrating as a child from Morocco.
Instantly recognizable with his oversize round glasses and his penchant for bow ties, Elbaz also earned fans with an affable and ebullient demeanor that set him apart in an industry known for prickly personalities.
Gal Uchovsky, a film producer and friend, described Elbaz as "an amazing person."
"He would always give you this feeling that he's there with you, for you, and it was genuine, it wasn't a show," he said ahead of the ceremony.
Holon "was where he'd come, fly away from Paris and New York and everywhere to rest," Uchovsky said.
In his eulogy, Alex Koo, Elbaz's partner of 28 years, recalled the designer's departure from Israel with little money to pursue his career in fashion.
Koo, a musician, said Elbaz left Israel "just with a suitcase and full of dreams, hopes, and your raw and intuitive talent."
He paid tribute to his partner's joy and humanity and his loving nature.
Several of Elbaz’s family members also delivered a eulogy to celebrate his life as well as the late designer’s many achievements.
"You would take time off from your pursuits to send us love," said his nephew, Alon Ben Tolila.
"Love generates love. That was Alber's slogan, as he spread love everywhere and never expected any back. Today though, Alber, we are all showing you love. I will miss you every minute and with every step I take. We were first your children and then your nephews. I love you more than my heart can bear.”
Another nephew, Eyal Ben Tolila, called Elbaz "much more than an uncle."
"You had the ability to influence people in an inspiring way. Your impact has been so significant at every crossroads of my life. You were with me throughout my life. You are me, and I am you. I love you, miss you and know you are with me in heart and soul.”
Other guests at the funeral included director Eytan Fox and singer Rita, who dedicated the song "Days of Innocence" to Elbaz.
The international fashion industry plans to hold a special memorial event in Paris on June 12, which would have been the designer's 60th birthday.
After beginning his career with the American designer Geoffrey Beene in New York, Elbaz took over at Guy Laroche in 1996 before joining Yves Saint Laurent in 1998 to design a ready-to-wear collections for the French master.
In 2001 he was hired by Lanvin.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Elbaz as the designer who "made French elegance shine around the world."