By Meghan Blalock
Updated Jan 09, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

There was a bit of magic inside the Waldorf Astoria last night in New York, where Lanvin artistic director Alber Elbaz accepted the 50th Anniversary Geoffrey Beene Fashion Impact Award. Before the event, the Israeli designer told that receiving the award was "very emotional" for him, because he got his first design job ever in 1990 with Geoffrey Beene, where he worked for seven years. "This is very surreal. I wish Mr. [Geoffrey] Beene was there with us tonight, with me," Elbaz told of the late designer, who passed away in 2004. "And I think he is." During his 15-minute acceptance speech, Elbaz—who revived Lanvin when he took over as artistic director in 2001—described his journey as a designer and shared some of the biggest lessons he's learned along the way. We've picked out his top 5 life lessons, which were recounted to multiple rounds of applause and a chorus of collective "Awww!" from the audience. Scroll down to get inspired!

1. DREAM BIG.“When I first came to New York [in 1985], I came with two suitcases. One, which was quite small, I had my belongings there. One was a big one, I had my dreams in there."

2. WHAT'S INSIDE COUNTS AS MUCH AS WHAT'S OUTSIDE."I first discovered Geoffrey Beene in his stores. The dresses looked more like butterflies flying in the room than dresses on racks and on hangers. I saw a navy jersey jacket with gold lapel lining. I saw a jumpsuit in black with hot pink inside. The inside was always as beautiful as the outside. The interior was as precious as the exterior."

3. HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR.After telling a fashion model to place her hand on a problem spot of a dress before showing Mr. Beene: "The first thing Mr. Beene told her: ‘What’s wrong with your hand? Move your hand!' And you know what she said? ‘But he told me there is a problem in the dress right here!’ I was backstage and I thought I was going to die. I was counting my hours again, and then Mr. Beene came backstage and started to laugh, because he had a great sense of humor."

4. GOOD PEOPLE KNOW GOOD PEOPLEOf eating soup with Mr. Beene at the same restaurant every Friday and being served by the same waitress, Barbara: "After one month of eating in Barbara’s restaurant, Mr. Beene would ask her, ‘Do you know a driver? I’m looking for a maid. I’m looking for a salesperson in the showroom.’ And I asked him, ‘Mr. Beene, how come?’ He said, ‘Alber, good people know good people.’ And I thought that was an amazing lesson for life for me."

5. DO BIG WORK, BUT LIVE SMALL."I have a weakness for mothers. My mother told me that she wished I would be big and small. I said, ‘Mom what do you mean? Like fat and skinny?’ And she said, ‘No, no, no. Be big at your work, but small at your life.’ And I always say, success is like a perfume. You can only smell it but don’t you ever drink it."

Plus, the stars love Alber's work! See who wears Lanvin in the gallery.