MOURNING THE PASSING OF A FASHION LEGEND – THE GREAT AZZEDINE ALAIA
The fashion industry is mourning the loss of one of our greatest. The legendary Paris designer AZZEDINE ALAIA died earlier today (Saturday, November 18) in Paris. He was 77 years-old.
Azzedine was one of the industry’s highly revered couturiers. Known for his no-nonsense approach to his craft but went about it in a humble, low keyed manner. Azzedine never followed the fashion rules laid out by the industry, he danced to his own beat. Every season, fashionistas would ask when was he going to show his collection, because he never followed the crowd to show during the season. “I’ll show when I am ready to, whenever the collection is ready.” he’d bluntly say, leaving potential buyers and editors in a tizzy.
Dubbed “The King of Cling,” Alaia had the reputation of creating dresses that were sculpted to the body. His signature dresses molded the body into extraordinary proportions and Vogue Magazine described his work as “an obsessive craftsman who bears more resemblance to a sculptor than a fashion designer.” Azzedine will be missed by a battalion of loyal followers. His private clients included: The Countess of Blegiers, Gretta Garbo, singer Grace Jones, Lady GaGa, Noami Campbell (whom he called his daughter) Marie-Helene de Rothschild and Louise Leveque de Vilmorin
In a touching tribute, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful said; “Azzedine Alaia was a true visionary and a remarkable man. He will be deeply missed by all of those who know and loved him, as well as by the women around the world who wore his clothes…The generosity of his spirit and genius of his designs will never be forgotten.”
From Paris, Henri Pinault, Kering’s Chairman and CEO referred to Alaia as “A man fiercely attached to his freedom…he was a friend.”
George Wayne, New York-based Vanity Fair Columnist and author of a new book `Anyone Who’s Anyone – The Astonishing Celebrity Interviews 1997-2017 (Harper) said in tribute: “Alaia was the tiny Tunisian fashion titan who packed a wallop! If there was ever a fashion force majeure who truly defined – iconoclast – it was Azzedine. He followed his own path. He refused to follow the norms, showing out of season, staging his catwalk collections only when he saw it the right time to do so.
GW met him only once. The early supermodel 90’s at a fashion party hosted by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell at their VIP boite the Michael Todd Room. He sauntered in with his then muse Veronica Webb. So shy, so warm so unaffected, so humble – an enigma in a business where such traits are definitely not the norm.
It is truly the end of an era! I do hope the Mayor of Paris deems fit to dim the lights of the Eiffel Tower to pay homage to this fashion legend. His final collection the Autumn 2017 couture collection from the House of Alaia – clearly instant collectibles.
His “daughter” Naomi Campbell must be bawling like a baby at this loss. Many of us are…..”
Born in Tunis on February 26, 1940, to wheat farmers, Azzedine Alaia attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tunis to study sculpture. He segued into fashion and built up an impressive cadre’ of private clients. Moving to Paris in 1957, he got a job with the House of Christian Dior during the Algerian war but was dismissed for not having the correct immigration papers needed for work in Paris. Azzedine went to work for Guy LaRoche for two seasons before moving on to work for Thierry Mugler. It was at that time a squad of high-society patrons allowed him to set up his own workshop. He opened his first atelier in his Rue de Bellecbasse apartment in the late 70s.
Azzadine Alaia showed a surprise couture collection in July, his first since 2011 in which Naomi Campbell made a rare catwalk appearance to rave reviews.