The fashion world lost one of the greatest and most uncompromising designers of the 20th and 21st centuries -Azzedine Alaïa who died on Saturday in Paris.
The Tunisian-born King of Cling, as he was known for his sculpted body-con designs, was one of the last remaining titans of the industry. Over decades, he was sought after by a range of luminaries, from Grace Jones, Madonna, and Lady Gaga to Greta Garbo, Raquel Welch, and Michelle Obama. He was close friends with supermodels such as Stephanie Seymour, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Naomi Campbell, who called him “Papa” and lived with him when she was a teenager.
Alaïa started out as a tailor for Christian Dior, followed by Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler, before setting up his own firm in the late 70s. From beginning to end, Mr. Alaïa was famous for his rejection of the fashion system and his belief that it had corrupted the creative power of what could be an art form. He dedicated his life to the belief that fashion was more than just garments; to him, they were as much an element in the empowerment of women and of a broader cultural conversation.
With his unique approach to couture, Azzedine Alaïa created a distinctive style that will forever set his creations apart.
“By opposing the superficial seasons and fashion shows, I’ve been one of the only people daring enough to break this demanding schedule that neglects design in favour of performance (…). To those who say to me ‘Alaïa, we don’t see you in catwalks anymore’ I tell them we do them every day but instead the audience is made up of a single new client or a panel of buyers”.
Cuts which are reminiscent of 19th century tailoring workshops, with pure white blouses punctuating the black.
The zip details
Clothing designed like a second skin, created on the body in order to magnify it. Here, the dress he designed for Grace Jones, making her resemble a statue.
One for Tina Turner - full of energy
A taste of Alaïa’s African inspiration, bringing the sensuality of materials such as raffia up to date, that others after him have continued e.g. John Galliano for Dior.