Alaïa Retrospective


omething to look forward to is Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier a retrospective opening at the Design Museum in London, from 10 May – 7 October 2018. The Tunisian-born fashion designer died in November 2017, but his first boutique will be opening ahead of the first UK solo exhibition of his work and will be located at 139 New Bond Street in London. The exhibition will include more than 60 couture pieces from his 35 years body of work.

Azzedine Alaïa with Farida Khelfa, and yorkshire terrier.

Azzedine Alaïa Perfection

Azzedine Alaïa began his work in Paris in the 70s, where he designed for private clients. He launched his label for  autumn/winter in 1981, and his message was all about the slim and tight silhouette and how as a designer he could manipulate that into every piece of clothing and which he lovingly turned into art for everyone and continued to do so throughout his career.  His early influences were Madeleine Vionnet when he started in fashion and then later Dior and Balenciaga, and he admired the American costume designer Adrian, which he had a lot of in his collection. A true classicist, he possessed an understanding of the architecture of the female form, he studied sculpture first at École des Beaux-Ard and was first taught fashion by a woman in Tunisia called Madame Pinot. He then went on to work for Guy Laroche a tailoring atelier, to learn tailoring but wanted to go out on his own and settled in Rue de Bellechasse and onto Parc Royal in 1984. Alaïa won designer of the year award from the French Ministry of Culture in 1985 and the awards ceremony was done at l’Opéra de Paris, where Grace Jones sang and he dressed her.

Azzedine Alaïa with Grace Jones. Her hooded pink dress, worn for A View to a Kill in 1985.

Alaïa went on to be fashions true independent for over 35 years and he didn’t design for a season, rather he designed for a body. He was fashions enigma and didn’t even think about a season, he followed no schedule but his own. He would only design a collection when he was ready and only show when he was ready. He didn’t conform to the ‘see now/shop’ now movement which he himself termed ‘see when it’s ready/shop later.’ There was never any immediacy and he remained his unassuming self, dressed as always in unchanging black Mandarin jacket and trousers.

Azzedine Alaïa
Azzedine Alaïa

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier will run from 10 May – 7 October 2018 at The Design Museum in London. 


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