Azzedine Alaia: The Couturier

The fashion industry was on hold November 18th 2017, the news of the passing of couturier Azzedine Alaia  shocked the world of fashion. The man how personally constructed each garment by hand, who worked to his own schedule and didn’t bow to the fashion week deadlines. His work has been worn by some of the biggest names in the industry, I mean we are talking here about, Beyonce, Rihanna, Victoria Beckham, Nicki Minaj, The former First Lady Michelle Obama. He was even referenced in 90’s teen hit Clueless (if you haven’t seen this movie that we cannot be friends), you know the moment when Alicia Silverstone character gets mugged at gunpoint and she protests kneeling because she is wearing his dress.

Before his death he conceived and co-curated the exhibition, which shows his incredible journey. He personally selected the garments, going back to the early 1980 to his most recent collection in 2017. It’s sad he wasn’t here to see the end result of his exhibition.

The first thing I asked when I got in, “Can I take pictures?”. Trust me this is not an weird question, it wasn’t allowed during Alexander McQueen exhibition. But I was happy to hear I was allowed here! Coming in the setup of the exhibition was really open and bright. The room was divided into different themes, with screens that divided the sections. It was really quit as well, not a lot of people during the time I went and to be honest I actually prefer that. When there are too many people walking around, I feel like you cannot really take your time if you know what I mean. The photo below is how the room was divided into and the themes.


The themes are highlighted from A to K and the screens in numbers.
I took soo many pictures that I’m still trying to figure out while I’m writing this how to post the pictures. Because I can tell you one thing, I didn’t follow the layout. When you get into the room, you start at A so that’s where I started but then I just went my own way. I was just so impressed seeing all his greatest work in 1 room like this. I really enjoyed it and also took my time. Like I said I took a lot of pictures and I really took my time to read the little book they gave me before I came in. While some probably walked out after maybe an hour, it took me 2 hours to walk out. Like I said, I like to absorb everything. I’m not just taking pictures to post online and say, “I was there”. I take them and look at them millions of time, study very inch of the designs. How the garments were made, how the fabric just falls, how it all comes together.

Being an stylist for me is creating art with clothing, it’s not because of all the big brands and the fashion shows, or some might think free stuff!. No for me it’s about creating something that people can see and say, “that is beautiful” or “inspiring”. That is why designers like Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaia, Guo Pei, just to name a few and yes in that order! are my favourite designers. They create pieces that go beyond just fashion!

So what I will do now, is write down what each section is and after I will post some photo’s of the garments that were in those sections. I just have so many pictures to post in this blog, I might just post some also on Instagram (if you aren’t following me there yet, click on the link!)

A: Sculptural Tension – “Art came first, for me”
B: Decoration and Structure – “Material can tigger the form”
C: Revolutionary Skins – “Leather is a material I sometimes wanted to make more feminine, more delicate, more fragile. I treated it in the same way as other haute couture fabrics”
D: Exploring Volume – “Making the right volume is a technique that is just as complex as any other. It demands good mathematics.”
E: Other Places Other Cultures – “I have a lot of African art. I love African sculpture objects. It’s a passion”
F: Spanish Accent – “The first fashion I remember was Velazquez – Las Meninas”
G: Black Silhouettes – “I like black, because, for me, it’s a very happy colour”
H: Renaissance Perspective – “There is a sensuality about fabric. I think all materials should be inviting when they touch the skin. When I watch childeren stroking their mothers clothes, I feel that I have succeeded”
I: Fragile and Strength – “When I’m working on a garment, it has to flow over the body”
J: Timelessness – “There is an evolution, but fashion hasn’t changed so much. The body is the most important thing.”
K: Wrapped Forms – “I had used stretch materials for years to shape the inside of garments I made for private clients. Then I just started using them on their own.”

The quotes of Azzedine really tells a lot about the designs and his passion for his work.
Before the ready-to-wear collections came to life in the 70’s, haute couture was how Azzedine started. He started his own fashion house to create made-to-order clothing that continues still today. His garments are so technically complex with techniques that date back to the 19th century, this is why his garments are just so beautiful and something that is not easy to replicate. Even when its comes to his ready-to-wear collections, Azzedine worked with haute couture techniques and even hand-cut the patterns for every garment for his collections himself. This was a man very passionate about his art and that is definitely what you see back in his incredible designs.

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The exhibition is still on until October 17th at the Design Museum, so get your ticket fast!

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