To Quote Naomi Campbell “No other dress can make a woman look and feel as good as an Alaïa dress because it cinches the body perfectly” - the praise of course, did not end there.
Alaia was a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry, not only for his sheer technical brilliance and the keenest eye to detail known in modern couture; but also for his irreverence and free spirit. Not one to be tied down by the confines of Fashion Week Schedules, this was a guy who really did move to the beat of his own drum. A ‘when its ready, its ready’ attitude always made his shows something to be amazed at, and he never let us down.
What is important to remember about this exhibition, is that it was never intended to be, nor indeed is it, a retrospective. Alaia co-curated this exhibition personally up until his death late last year.
He was always known to be somewhat of an outsider, certainly never really a commonly known ‘household designer’ In the way of so many of the couture houses have become. Nothing was ever watered down, nothing was ever realistically affordable, and nothing was ever short of fabulous, pure couture bliss.
Dresses here are displayed thematically as apposed to by collection or date. This creates a stronger identity of how Alaia always stayed true to himself, his work, and his craft.
Couture, for the many, is a thing of the past. A folly of either the 'neaveau -riche’ or something to be worshipped through a glass wall, unachievable, unattainable. However, couture was what Azzedine Alaia did better than almost all his contemporaries. He stayed true, consistently, to this dying artform, and brought it back from the precipice, back to the public eye, as the art form it truly is.
The attention to detail seen on these dresses is unbelievable until you’re face to face with them, the way metal and cloth meet and entwine and become one flowing body hugging form is enough to leave you awe struck.
What really spoke to me however, was the way the exhibition communicated his most famous of quotes “I make clothes; women make fashion.” - the mannequins stood almost 2m tall, he himself was just over 5ft, the presentation itself shows this hierarchy of fashion and how its perceived. Towering amazonian woman, the likes of Grace Jones for example (Jones, was a huge fan, and muse of the designer, and famously wore Alaia in the movie ‘A View To Kill’) really spoke to Alaia, and it was this that enticed him to put woman on this pedestal, the fashion makers, the reason why the garments exist in the first place.
This is truly a once in a lifetime type of exhibition that really needs to be seen to be comprehended fully, the attention to detail, love, admiration and energy Alaia put into these pieces resonates, and his memory will endure.
5/5 A MUST SEE.
By Daniel Hunter.