Spotlight on Alaïa Featured

A look inside the world of fashion's famously low-profile designer, Azzedine Alaïa, and his talent for creating timeless luxury

by 07 October 2013

Inside his headquarters in the Marais, the petite Azzedine Alaïa hurries about from one meeting to the next, in and out of his workshop-meets-boutique where he happily greets friends and clients alike. At 74 years old, there is no slowing this iconic designer, as 2013-2014 marks one of the biggest years to date for his half-century career. Between the opening of his new four-storey boutique in the Golden Triangle, the Alaïa retrospective marking the Palais Galliera’s much-anticipated return, and the creation of the Alaïa Foundation dedicated to the archives of the world’s great fashion creators, it’s clear that the designer has never been more on top.

For Alaïa, born in Tunisia in 1939, Paris was the ultimate goal from the beginning. After moving here at the age of 18, he began working with some of the biggest designers of the era, from Christian Dior to Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler. Alaïa quickly rose in the ranks of the Parisian fashion elite. He was the private couturier to stars and jetsetters of the 1970s, from Louise de Villemorin to Greta Garbo, and was, and still is, known for the close bonds he forms with his clients. Today, stars such as Naomi Campbell, Rihanna and many more are avid collectors of the couturier’s famously flattering designs.

For the last 20 years, Alaïa has kept an impressively low profile given his brand’s luxury clout. He is available rarely for interviews, and shows only on the Paris runways when he feels he is ready. One of the biggest catalysts for his luxury brand came in 2000, when he signed a deal with the Prada group, followed by the acquisition of his brand by the Richemont Group in 2007. Despite the major corporate changes behind the scenes of the Alaïa brand, Azzedine Alaïa remains the king of discreet luxury and independence, two traits that make the designer’s retrospective this September at the Palais Galliera that much more anticipated.

The Palais Galliera, Paris’ fashion museum, has been closed since 2010 undergoing major renovations. As the first museum to exhibit Warhol in Paris, they will again make history with the first-ever Parisian Alaïa retrospective. At the hands of world-renowned curator and museum director, Olivier Saillard, the exhibition will trace the entire evolution of Azzedine Alaïa’s creations and contributions to the art of Couture in Paris, the capital of fashion, around a set designed by artist Martin Szekely.

The show is perfectly timed with respect to the Fall 2013 opening of Alaïa’s first boutique in the centre of Parisian luxury, between Avenue Montaigne and Rue Marignan. With two current locations in Paris, one his uber-discreet flagship boutique and atelier located in the Marais, and the other a boutique dedicated to past seasons’ overflow, the opening of such a supremely-located store is another indicator of Alaïa’s irrefutable, yet classically humble, return to the spotlight.

Azzedine Alaïa
7, rue de Moussy
75004 Paris