Azzedine Alaïa was a Tunisian-born couturier and shoe designer. Step inside the exhibition “Je suis couturier,” celebrating the late Azzedine Alaïa who famously said: I am not a designer, I am a couturier.” The space in the Marais district of Paris, where he lived and worked, opened today. 35 iconic pieces are on display, selected by one of Alaïa’s collaborators, Olivier Saillard.
“Azzedine loved life and the future, he always projected forward,” Carla Sozzani said over a din of hammers and drills at the Azzedine Alaïa headquarters on Saturday morning. “This is the future he wanted. What better way to honor him than to open his house and show his work?”
Alaïa, never wanted a memorial. That said, for the fashion crowd, Sunday’s opening of “Je Suis Couturier,” an exhibition of 41 dresses by Alaïa, will be a chance to pay their respects, as well as catch a glimpse of how the Association Azzedine Alaïa is taking shape.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Alaïa idolized Madeleine Vionnet, the Parisian designer who is credited with inventing the bias cling in fashion, and he is known to have collected and studied her work. His affinity for Vionnet is fitting, as both designers boldly glorified the female form by using fabric like a second skin. (Who can forget the image of Grace Jones in one of the designer’s hooded, glove-fit stunners?) Cling, created through bias cutting or the use of stretch fabrics and knits, was an important aspect of Alaïa’s work, but it wasn’t the only one; structure was another of his obsessions. Alaïa worked leather as if it were satin, molding it into hourglass shapes that communicated power, strength, and sexual allure.