When it comes to modern elegance, Azzedine Alaïa understood the notion of ‘timeless’ fashion, celebrating the female form, as well as doing things his own way. It was his nonconformist nature, refusing to do what the fashion masses were doing, whether that was certain trends or showing on the catwalk at a certain time of year that I loved about the couturier and his designs.
The Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition at the Design Museum in London is less of a retrospective to the late designer, instead it is a celebration of his haute couture, with his designs and craftsmanship being the focus, with each item on display allow visitors to see the beauty in 360 degrees. Which is so refreshing, so many exhibitions lately have seen fashion displayed behind glass cabinets, where you can’t truly take in the beauty of the piece.
What’s special about this exhibition is that Azzedine Alaïa himself co-curated everything that you can see, and knowing his reported perfectionist ways, you won’t be surprised that it really offers the most incredible homage to his craft, his inspirations and the way in which he has made an impact on fashion, which seems even more important now that he is gone.
There are over 60 rare and iconic garments on display, each one more beautiful than the next, and I love that you get to see each piece up close, his designs really are in the details, from the dome-shaped pleated skirts to the iconic designs worn by Tina Turner, Grace Jones and Naomi Campbell, to the flamenco-esque statuesque gowns that glisten so perfectly.
This isn’t an exhibition just about fashion, the dresses which are showcased thematically, not seasonally or chronologically, are divided by a series of specially commissioned architectural screens by leading artists and designers, who Alaïa had a long-term creative dialogue – Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Marc Newson, Kris Ruhs and Christoph von Weyhe, which seemed rather fitting with it being displayed at the Design Museum.
The whole exhibition is breathtaking, from the pieces selected ranging from the 1980s to his final collection seen last year, to the display space itself I loved how the light glistened on the pedestals and how the art screens fully represented the clothing they were acting as the backdrop to, right down to the amazing timeline to Alaïa’s life and career, and the photographs showcased around the room.
If you have a chance before October 7, do visit, I think you will agree it really is a stunning tribute and celebrate of the master couturier, Azzedine Alaïa.
My obsession is to make women beautiful. When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion” – Azzedine Alaïa