Sunday, 6 October 2013


Since Paris Fashion Week has come to an end, here's even a better reason to visit the City of Light.

The Palais Galliera - a.k.a. the Museum of Fashion - re-opened its doors last Tuesday, after four years of dusty renovation. In between shows, crowds have been rushing to admire its successful facelift and the city’s first retrospective of the legendary couturier Azzedine Alaïa - which carries on through January 26, 2014. 

Mr. Olivier Saillard, the museum's director and curator of the exhibit, describes Alaïa as one of the last living designers who actually knows how to draw, sew, and model. He is a true artisan of over 30 years. The famous Azzedine technique, which is to sculpt the dresses directly on the models, aims to celebrate women’s bodies, accentuating their assets and hiding their flaws. Unlike many fashion designers who come up with ideas that they then try to project onto the human form, Alaïa begins from the ground up, following the architecture of a woman’s body.

“If I don’t have a model in front of me,” he says, “I don’t have an idea."

Alaïa also plays by his own rules, free of the fashion industry’s intense schedule. Showing his collections at his rhythm, he takes the time he needs to make clothes. "Monsieur Alaïa is against time," Saillard said. "And everything he does is timeless." For this reason, it was very important to "mix up the dresses in the exhibition without following a chronology," he added. From the start of his career, the "architect of cut" has been unaffected by the changes in fashion, never compromising or trying to adapt to its tendencies. The designer's penchant for building timeless clothes that were meant to last rather than fleeting fashion makes makes it hard to date many of his signature looks. He stopped showing his collections during fashion week starting in 1988, preferring to stick to his own schedule and rhythm. And he isn’t afraid to openly criticize fashion heavyweights like Vogue’s Anna Wintour, with whom he has had a standing feud for years.

“I never followed fashion,” he says. “It’s women who have dictated my conduct. I’ve never thought of anyone but them because I am convinced that they have more talent than any stylist. You must understand the academy of their bodies in order to anticipate their desires. Over the years, I have followed the lessons of their silhouette. The shoulder is essential, the waist primordial. The small of the back and the derrière are crucial.”

Even if you can't make it to Paris, check out a few photos from the exhibition.


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