Alaïa Azzedine

Alaïa Azzedine
Alaïa Azzedine with the top model Naomi Campbell

French designer of Tunisian origin. Alaia Azzedine 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. Moreover, his collections included wrapped knitted black dresses, zipper-shaped jackets, belts and gloves in studded and open-work leather.

Alaia Azzedine
The atelier

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.

Alaia Azzedine Foundation

The designer’s life was filled with art, fashion, design, architecture, music theatre and all things creative. He was an avid collector with a true collector’s compulsion. Starting in the 50s, Alaïa cruised the flea markets, buying pieces by designers like Jean Prouvé, decades before anyone else took notice. Their interest in pure form reflected his own sculptural inclinations.

Alaia Azzedine
Carla Sozzani and Alaia

In 2007, Alaia along with his friend, galleries Carla Sozzani and lifetime partner Christoph Von Weyhe founded Association Azzedine Alaia to preserve his work and large holdings. The association later became Fondation Azzedine Alaia, located at his headquarters in Paris. It preserves and exhibits, his works along with his art works from his personal collection.

The museum comprising of two exhibition galleries and a bookstore, took shape one year after Alaia’s death. Fondation Azzedine Alaia was recognised by decree od French ministry of interior as an establishment of public utility in 2020.

Je Suis Couturier

Je suis couturier
Je suis coututier exhibition

The first exhibit curated by the foundation took place in 2018. As an ode to the late Alaia, the exhibition featured 41 dresses design by Alaia. The exhibition took place at the foundation headquarters in Marais, giving the visitors a glimpse of the fondations’s progress.

Alaia & Balenciaga – Sculptors of form

Alaia Azzedine

Developing on Hubert De Givenchy’s nascent idea, the exhibition displayed Cristobal Balenciaga and Azzedine Alaia’s designs on parallels. The philosophical similarities between both the designer, despite the fact that they never met, silver lined the exhibit. Curated by Olivier Saillard in early 2020, the showcased intended to create a ‘conversation’ fuelled by the passion both designers shared for fashion. Alaia collected several designs by Balenciaga over the years.

Taking Time

Alaia Azzedine
The book Taking Time

A posthumous book featuring the conversation between Azzedine Alaia and his friends was published in 2020. Titled as ‘Taking Time’, the compilation began in 2013, years before Alaia’s death. Alaia reportedly didn’t wish to write a memoir, rather bring together conversations that happened over time, that serve as both a self-portrait and a manifesto. The foreword for this book was written by Naomi Campbell. Compiled by French writer Donatien Grau and published in both French and English, Taking Time also features words by actress Charlotte Rampling, filmmaker artist Julian Schnabel and designer Ronan Bouroullec.

Alaia Azzedine – The Editions

Alaia Azzedine
The Editions

Paying tribute to Azzedine Alaia’s legacy, a wardrobe consisting of 30 looks ranging from 1981 to 2017 was showcased alongside Alaia’s Spring 2021 collection. The emblematic wardrobe was launched with an artistic performance, hosted by Naomi Campbell. The Editions would continue with pop ups at key retail destinations, including their flagships stores in Paris, Dubai and London.

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