In the hands of Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaïa, fabrics and women’s bodies are shaped like origami. His clothes resemble “soft sculptures” and can easily be placed next to those of stone, bronze or marble. As a teenager he was lying about his age to go to a local art school and study the human body and learn how to sculpt. He defines himself as a “builder” of clothing and knows the architecture of the female body to the boiling point.
His models are sexual, not social. Silhouettes “speak” Oriental language and allow the body to move at its most provocative rhythm. Maybe it’s because as a young he was so close to the women. “My grandfather worked at the Tunis Police Department, issuing ID cards. I often went to work with him and watched them “paint” pictures for new documents. Then I began to collect photos of women – blondes, brunettes, redheads. I looked at them and imagined how they would look like in the full size.
Azzedine didn’t like the word designer because it makes him laugh. He refused to be interviewed because he hated the pressure to create “hits” just for magazines and blogs. In fact, he predicted the death of fashion if it continued to be done at all costs. Sometimes his thoughts were faster than his sewing machine. Only Azzedine could afford himself to say that no one would remember Anna Wintour as a part of the fashion history or Karl Lagerfeld, who never touched a pair of scissors.
Azzedine Alaïa’s fashion aesthetic is a particular manifestation of women’s rights. He sees them as beautiful, makes them beautiful and pushes them to feel confident in their skin. “Dress so that the men could fall at your feet,” says Alaïa. He created collections in his own home – a huge warehouse in the Mare district, built in the 19th century, with a transparent roof. It is so-called “The Tower of Babylon by Alaïa” – different languages sound there. In the centre of the studio, there is a huge glass table with white Mallet-Stevens chairs.
According to the designer’s ritual people have to seat there united by his ideas about fashion. Few years before his death, his first and only fragrance was born there – Alaïa Paris. I may start to sew a dress or jacket at some point with the feeling that I will finish it up to ten years, ” says Azzedine Alaïa in one of his last interviews.