Remembering the Legacy of Fashion Icon Azzedine Alaïa

A pair of long-in-the-making exhibitions celebrate the life of the late designer

"Je Suis Couturier" exhibition in the Azzedine Alaïa atelier in Paris on view through June 10.
Photo: Maison Alaïa
Azzedine Alaïa and a model for his fall 2002 collection, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier

“The foundation of beauty is the body,” the brilliant French couturier Azzedine Alaïa once said, though the master knew better than most that what gives fashion its seductive power is the way physique is cloaked and cosseted. Alaïa passed away a few months ago, in November, but his work is currently the subject of two exhibitions long in the making.

In Paris, his creations are ensconced in his legendary atelier in the Marais, the place where he honed his craft, worked his magic, and hosted legendary supper parties. The display is small but formidable, with 41 exquisite dresses, mostly black or white, hung on floating forms rather than mannequins to emphasize their “timeless aspect,” curator Olivier Saillard explains. (That said, there is a spectacular pink-hooded number once worn by model and singer Grace Jones.) The show, titled “Je Suis Couturier” (through June 10), came about after much persuasive “talking, more talking, and dining,” Saillard says, until the designer finally agreed.

“Je Suis Couturier” exhibition in the Azzedine Alaïa atelier. Photo: Courtesy of Maison Alaia

From May 10 through October 7, those anxious for still more Alaïa can visit the exhaustive exhibition “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier” at London’s Design Museum, featuring more than 60 couture pieces picked by the master himself. “I am never sure that anything’s good enough,” Alaïa once declared. “Something that is good today will not be good tomorrow.” We beg to differ: His work is incomparable today, tomorrow, and forever. alaia.fr; designmuseum.org

Azzedine Alaïa fitting Grace Jones in the pink hooded dress. Photo: Pinterest

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