Remembering Azzedine Alaïa
Azzedine Alaïa, the famous Tunisian fashion designer, has died in Paris, at the age of 77. While tributes have been pouring in for the couturier, with Lady Gag saying he was 'a genius in not only fashion but in his heart' and Victoria Beckham hailing him as a true master and one of her biggest inspirations, we pay tribute by taking a look back at his career and the legacy he has left behind.
Once dubbed the 'king of cling', he was known for his creations that used stretchy fabrics, accentuating a woman's shape, understanding the new found femininity of the 1980's.
Azzedine Alaïa was born in Tunis in 1940 to wheat farmers. It was here that he studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts. However, he began making clothes, born out of a fascination for haute couture, which lead to his move at 17 to Paris. Here, he worked with Dior (for just 5 days) and then Guy Laroche until, in 1960, be began working for private clients, which included Marie-Hélène des Rothschild, Louise de Vilmorin and Greta Garbo.
Alaïa opened his first studio in 1963 on the Rive Gauche in Paris, his first ready-to-wear line came in 1981 and the following year was when his signature style was born. He won Best French Collection and Best Designer of the Year awards and his new icons became the tops models of the 1990's, such as Naomi Campbell.
What made this designer's early work unique and stand out from the rest was his innovative use of fabric. He was of the first fashion designer to use leather for eveningwear, while still maintaining femininity. The dress above is from his Autumn/Winter 2002-03 collection.
In the mid 1990s, Alaïa become very low-profile, following the death of his sister, although his collections remained as in demand as ever. In 2011 the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands dedicated a show to his work, as did Palais Galliera in Paris.
Azzedine Alaïa was the fashion designer known as the one who showed his collections when he was ready, working to his own schedule, not those of fashion week or the seasons. He was a master at cutting, draping and assembling (his training as a sculptor coming through), working only on living models, never mannequins.
That's quite a legacy to leave behind. He will be sadly missed in the world of fashion and by all those who held them close to their hearts. RIP Azzedine Alaïa.