I recently spent a glorious afternoon taking in Azzedine Alaïa's designs at the newly-renovated Palais Galliera, at the Tunisian-born designer's first retrospective in Paris. The exhibition features a selection of seventy models from across his impressive career. The couturier's draped, sculptural, bodycon designs in jersey, stretch knit and leather, switching between elegant and sexy, make you never want to dress casually again.
His friend Thierry Mugler encouraged him to present this first collection 1979, the same year he was commissioned to create costumes for the Crazy Horse cabaret dancers, after building up a dedicated clientele who loved his made-to-measure garments. In the 1980s and 90s, he sculptured a new body, playing with shapes and proportions with zips curving round the silhouette, form-fitting sheath dresses, body-hugging bandages of fabrics, coats with pierced eyelets and structural stitching to accentuate the curves of a woman's body.
He loved women and knew exactly how to dress them, using his famous draping technique to celebrate the figure, saying‘When I’m working on a garment, it has to flow over the body, in profile and in back view.' He sent Naomi Campbell (in her first fashion show, aged sixteen in 1986), Yasmin Le Bon, Stephanie Seymour, Linda Evangelista and all the supermodels down the catwalk in his sensational creations, embodying an iconic moment in fashion. Boy oh boy, it's a fantastic expo for fashion-lovers.
Azzedine Alaia Paris fashion show, 1986