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Tuesday, August 07, 2018, 18:14
The Little Master
By Sonia Altshuler
Tuesday, August 07, 2018, 18:14 By Sonia Altshuler

Couture’s outsider Azzedine Alaïa and the exhibition he helped create before his death last year

There have been numerous tributes to Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaïa since his death last November, but none as pertinent as Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier at London’s Design Museum. Conceived and co-curated by the Tunisian-born master of the cloth, the first exhibition to be shown in the UK on the renowned designer spans his career from the early 1980s to his final works in 2017, and includes many of his greatest hits – the bandage dress, the zipped dress, the corset belt and the stretch body. His dresses have embraced the bodies of the world’s most seductive and successful women, and the name Alaïa was always synonymous with high glamour, sensuality, style, cut, self-confidence and independence. 

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Alaïa constructed each garment by hand and refused to bow to the pressures of Fashion Week deadlines, instead working to his own schedule. His collaborative approach earned him an esteemed client list including Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna. “My obsession is to make women beautiful,” said Alaïa. “When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion.” Ultimately, he dedicated his life to a more utopian vision than just fashion, believing that the clothes he made furthered the empowerment of women and became part of a broader cultural conversation. Says Jean-Paul Gaultier of the designer: “A big master! Brilliantly combining the technique, the sewing know-how, the tradition and the modernity!” See it all until October 7. (designmuseum.org)   

Images: Patrick Demarchelier; © Pierre Antonie; ©Prosper Assouline for Alaïa: Livre de Collection, Assouline; courtesy of Arthur Elgort

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