Greta Garbo. Arletty and Louise de Vilmorin. Naomi Campbell, Veronica Webb and Linda Evangelista. Grace Jones, Tina Turner and Rihanna.
Azzedine Alaïa has an impressive and enviable list of clients who are loyal fans of the Tunisian-born Paris designer. This fall more than 70 of the pieces that these A-list clients made iconic are on display at the newly opened
Palais Musée Galliera in Paris. I had a chance to visit the intimate museum the day after
Paris Fashion Week had ended. Alaïa—much to the chagrin of any overworked designer—hasn’t shown a collection during the mandated calendar since 1987. Alaïa revolts “against the absurd need for novelty, ” writes curator and museum director, Olivier Saillard. The exhibit, which runs until January 26, is a unique opportunity for any fashion follower to take in the impeccable craftsmanship and artistry behind this celebrated couturier’s work. His signature techniques—zippers snaking around the body, bandage-like stretch dresses or leather creations like the famous crocodile appliquéd tailcoat—are simply remarkable. His work is exquisite, both for its edited simplicity as well as its masterful sculptured and sexy precision. Alaïa told Saillard that he prefers people to notice the woman and not the clothes. “Her face, her body her hand—the clothes she wears should dress her, underscore her qualities and make her beautiful.” Having seen his work up close, I’m not sure the clothes play such a secondary role.
runs until January 26, 2014 at the Palais
Galliera in Paris. It’s an understated and elegant tribute to one of fashion’s legendary designers.
Want to see some of my favourite looks from exhibit, read on?
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter