Azzedine Alaïa is a designer that’s often described by his contradictions: he might have been small in size, but his influence was monstrous; he defined fashion, but always showed off-schedule.
But rather than contradictory, Alaïa’s lifelong dedication to responding to the female form stood firm in resistance to one of the very contradictory premises upon which fashion was built: change, trend, newness. Alaïa changed how both fashion and the world view women and their bodies.
And that’s exactly what Alaïa did it all for. “I do it for women!” he rumbles in French in this video of his SS92 show, twelve years after he presented his first ever ready-to-wear collection. The show caught here depicts the effervescence and the joy that pulsed through fashion during this time — the dawn of the super, the time when fashion was about feeling good.
“Azzedine is a master craftsman…” Veronica Webb exalts backstage, as Naomi Campbell chews her gum. “There’s no one who makes your body look better.” She’s right. And while the video captures the clothes sculpted onto these moving bodies well, the exhibition of Alaïa’s life’s work that just opened at London’s Design Museum only serves to reinforce the master craftsman’s genius.
As worked on by Alaïa himself in the months leading up to his death in 2017, Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier offers much more than a look at just his dresses, though. In contrast to the industrial setting of the space, the designer’s creations shine bright as a symbol of his love for the feminine form and its sculpture, as well as the women that wore his designs themselves.
While so-called ‘revolutions’ hit fashion time and time again, Alaïa’s vision is one of the only ones which remains totally and utterly, timeless.
Watch the video above.
Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier is open until October 7 at The Design Museum, 224 - 238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG.