After the passing of Azzedine Alaïa, Katy Prophet explores his life and his contributions to fashion
The inspirational Tunisian fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa has passed away on the 18th November, at the age of 82. Alaïa was once termed “The King of Cling” and this is certainly what he will be remembered for. His job at Guy Laroche is what kick- started his career, before working for Thierry Mugler and then opening his first shop as a dress-maker and designer.
His skill for dress-making was marveled at by his friends and clients due to his extremely hands on approach. In an interview for ‘The Financial Times’, Joe McKenna states that Alaïa is the only designer he has seen to “cut and sew the clothes himself”.
Throughout his whole career as a designer he demonstrated a love for fashion and this passion and his hands on approach is what he will be remembered for.
His collections in the 1980’s had a huge impact on his career. It was from then on that he was termed the “King of cling”. He was revolutionary in that he ditched the diamonds and embellishments on a dress to focus more on a tighter, more fitting and more erotic dress, allowing women to feel confident and sexy. The more simplistic, elegant dresses contrasted with the vibrant trends that we all associate with the 80’s. He was known for not following the fashion trends of the time, instead he made his own. These collections from the 80’s are what allowed for some of his greatest accomplishments as during the 1980’s he was voted ‘Best Designer of the Year’ alongside the ‘Best Collection of the Year’. He was also supported in the French Elle magazine editorials around the same time.
Although known for being shy he certainly didn’t shy away from working with some of the biggest names of the time. Women devoted to his skin-tight collections included: Tina Turner, Janet Jackson and Naomi Campbell. However, his career didn’t just peak there, in 2000 he partnered with Prada. This partnership created a popularity for his leather collection, again sticking to the ‘cling’ effect, they fitted the woman’s body extremely tightly, and figure-hugging leather was rare at this point.
Whilst also famous for his designs and his works, his character is also what people are just as likely to remember him for. He was known for ‘doing his own thing’ and many times his collections were not exhibited in the Paris Fashion Shows as he believed he could not rush fashion and that ‘collections are ready when they are ready’, going against the consumer-led market.Even when Prada stated he would make much more money in selling bags and perfume; he refused as this was not his forte.
A true visionary in that he didn’t let people in the fashion industry control him.
Whilst working for others he still managed to remain completely independent, which is why so many people idolized him during his career and now after it. His character and his collections reflect his character perfectly, in that he was a visionary and worked with materials not often worked with, and styled dresses in a way that had not been done before.