Alaïa Azzedine
Alaïa Azzedine with the top model Naomi Campbell

Alaïa Azzedine is a French designer of Tunisian origin. The designer arrived in Paris in 1957 as an apprentice sculptor, after graduating from the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Tunis, his hometown. His name became great in fashion during the 1980s, thanks to his unmistakable style, while remaining a tireless craftsman. Morevoer, his passion for sculpture contributes to the three-dimensional feeling of his dresses, which so often emphasize the back and the bottom (“They are the core of feminine seduction,” he likes to say).

The Past of Alaïa Azzedine as Sculptor

The study of the history of costume and tailoring in the 1900s, from Madeleine Vionnet to Poiret and Balenciaga, taught him the principles of the highest style. In addition, his daily work of cutting and sewing, the long fittings with the most important and demanding clients gave him the perfection and self-confidence of a master. Among these personalities appear Simone Zehrfuss, Louise de Vilmorin, Cécile de Rothschild and Arletty.

Alaïa Azzedine Designer

In 1965 Alaïa opened his first atelier (two rooms in rue de Bellechasse, on the left bank of the Seine) which became the destination of a cosmopolitan pilgrimage. Thanks to the most sophisticated word-of-mouth, during these years he attracted and won a young and avant-guard clientele. His collections included wrapped knitted black dresses, zipper-shaped jackets, belts and gloves in studded and open-work leather.

In 1980 he presented his first Collection and in 1982, a presentation at the luxury store Bergdorf Goodman in New York opened the doors of America to him. During 1985 he moved from rue de Bellechasse to an old youth hostel in the Marais district, restored by his friend the architect-designer Andrée Putman. Meanwhile, in 1990 he “fell in love” with an ex-industrial workshop in rue de la Verrerie and transformed it into an atelier with the help of the American artist Julian Schnabel. But, in spite of his great success, the French-Tunisian designer has maintained his distance from organized fashion, the financial market, and show business.

Alaïa Azzedine Collection at the Bicentennial of the French Revolution

On July 14th 1989, for the bicentennial of the French Revolution, Jessye Norman sang the Marseillaise while wearing one of Alaïa creations: a white, red and blue dress. Furthermore, in 1997 the Dutch Museum of Groningen, designed by Alessandro Mendini, dedicated a large exhibition to him. Moreover, the exhibition presented works by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Schnabel, Basquiat, and César near his clothes.

Before that, in 1993, he gave up the runways and the presentation of Collections that have to comply with a calendar set by the Chambre Syndicale which, in Paris, is the law for fashion.
Patrizio Bertelli, head of the Prada Group, announces the purchase of a majority stake in the French firm. In other words, Prada becomes the exclusive owner of the firm’s licenses.
After several years, Azzedine returns to the runways of French haute couture.

The French-Tunisian designer passed away in 2017.

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