He was a fashion designer born in Tunisia in February 26, 1935.
His father did not want him to study art, but he managed to attend the Fine Arts school in Tunis, Tunisia. Shortly afterwards he got a job as a seamstress, where he finished sewing the clothes that were delivered to him at home. For that he needed the help of his sister who taught him how to sew.
Then he started working in a sewing studio that copied high fashion clothes for clients. Copying the clothes turned him into an accomplished seamstress. Soon he started working for at the most respected houses. First Dior, which he left five days later, then after two seasons at Guy Laroche came Thierry Mügler.
While working for the houses he worked for, he established contacts; by the end of the 1970s, when he started his own brand, Alaïa already had a clientele. Independence began in a small studio in Paris.
In 1980 came the first ready-to-wear collection. Still in the 1980s, interior designer Andrée Putman was spotted on the streets of Paris wearing one of Alaïa’s leather coats by one of the buyers at the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman. After that, the designer’s international fame began. In 1988 he already had stores in Beverly Hills and New York.
With the new stores came a large clientele and among the people who started wearing Alaïa are: Madonna, Tina Turner, Gwen Stefani, LeAnn Rimes, Heidi Klum, Mariah Carey, Victoria Beckham, Ashley Olsens, Naomi Campbell, Katie Holmes, Vanessa Traina, Julia Roberts, Jada Pinkett Smith, Stephanie Seymour, Katherine Heigl, Cameron Diaz, and Naomi Campbell.
Alaïa’s collections have always been show cased whenever he wants; whether they are on the official circuit of fashion shows or not. And his clientele never failed to follow him.
During the 1990s Alaïa disappeared from the haute couture scene due to the death of his sister, but continued to work with his ready-to-wear line. In 2000 he joined the Prada group. And in 2007 he brought his brand back by joining the Richemont group that also owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Despite working for a large group of brands, Alaïa continued with his strong roots working according to what he believed in, not what fashion dictated.
The style of Alaïa’s clothes has didn’t change either. He liked to keep a tight silhouette, showing the body of the one who uses his creations. Assembling the clothes using techniques such as moulage, where the clothes are built directly on the body. He made his cuts himself, and although his clothes sometimes look simple, they are all complex when it comes to modeling.
Alaïa died on November 18, 2017.
Some images of Azzedine Alaïa’s career:
Rihanna wearing Azzedine Alaïa at the 2013 Grammy Awards and Jessica Hart wearing Azzedine Alaïa at the 2016 MET Gala.
Bibliography: Allan, Georgina O’Hara; Enciclopédia da Moda: De 1840 À Década de 90: Companhia das Letras, 2010.