Fashion Scoop

{designer spotlight} Azzedine Alaia: the “King of Cling”

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In 1940 a fashion legend was born in the town of Tunis, Tunisia. Growing up in a family of wheat farmers, Azzedine Alaia took after his sister’s niche for fashion and fell in love with Couture. Honestly, who could blame him? While he was assisting Madame Pinot, who happened to be a family friend, Alaia became even more infatuated with the art of fashion. It was Pinot who enrolled him in Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he studied sculpture and his understanding of the human body began. 

After graduating, Alaia moved to France and worked as a tailor for Christian Dior. However, due to the Algerian war, his employment only lasted five days. Later he met Madame Simone Zehrfuss and Louise de Vilmorin, and with their guidance Alaia acquired his private clients. He later continued his work as a tailor for Guy Laroche and then went on to work for Thierry Mugler. Subsequently, Alaia worked under Comtesse de Blegiors as a design assistant for five years, when he then opened his first atelier in 1970.

A decade later, Alaia changed the world of fashion with his ready-to-wear body con dresses and tight mini skirts. The trend at the time was masculine powered suits, but Alaia’s new look stood out above the rest. It was the intricacy and body-hugging products that gave Alaia the title “Best Designer of the Year” and “King of Cling”. Proceeding this collection Alaia decided to expand to the U.S. where he opened two boutiques in New York {inside Barneys NY now} and Beverly Hills.

Years into his reign, Alaia was struck with tragedy when his twin sister passed away. The fashion industry was saddened and deprived as Alaia took time off and only designed for his private clients and his ready-to-wear collection. With every darkness, comes a new light. In 2000 Alaia’s light shined brighter than ever as he came back with a new centerpiece, long flowy skirts and knit dresses.


Azzedine Alaïa is in a different league. As long as he knows that women love his clothes, he doesn’t care about what magazines write about him. He shows when he wants and when he is ready — not when there’s a fashion week. “Today there is no time for creativity; nobody has time to develop a special silhouette or a special fabric,” he told the Business of Fashion during an interview. “Four collections for women, four collections for men, another four collections to sell, and everything needs do be done within four, five months—it’s a one-way course towards emptiness. It’s inhuman.” 
Alaia and Naomi Campbell

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