The design collection

Azzedine Alaïa also had a great love of design and always adorned his living and work spaces with decorative pieces by renowned designers : Le Corbusier, Jean Royère, Marc Newson, Shiro Kuramata, Marius Sabino, Serge Mouille, Jean Prouvé, but also artists friends such as César, Andrée Putman, Kris Ruhs, Pierre Paulin, Angelo Mangiarotti, Ettore Sottsass, Martin Szekely, les Bourellec and many others.

The first to collect Prouvé, his passion led him to purchase in the early 2000s a gas station designed by Jean Prouvé that he turned into his bedroom.

I had some furniture by Jean Prouvé in the maid's room that I lived in on rue Byron, Simone Zerhrfuss had given them to me. Her husband had worked with Prouvé, and she owned a lot of furniture by him. I had the single bed, the table, a chair, and even the bookcase « Tunisie » ! When I left the maid's room, I left them there, thinking at the time that they were just things made of wood. Much later, in the early 80's, I was strolling through the flea market, where I never usually go, and I saw a table, I think it was my old table ! And there was the bookcase too. I asked the seller about them, he was the gallery owner Philippe Jousse, who had just opened. I asked his wife for the prices, and her answer almost gave me a migraine ! I left the gallery and thought to myself “God forgive me, when I of how with my innocence and foolishness I didn't think furniture could be worth anything!”So I went back inside the gallery, and they agreed to sell them to me at a good price… Azzedine Alaïa

azzedine alaïa hotel © azzedine alaïa foundation

The works of Azzedine Alaïa

You have to leave a sign in your life as you are passing through it. Azzedine Alaïa

Azzedine Alaïa, strapless dress with pins, photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

The Foundation's mission is to perpetuate the work and the philosophy of Azzedine Alaïa through the conservation, the preservation, the archiving, the promotion and exhibition to the public of the collections of garments, accessories, sketches, designs, drawings and other objects belonging to the foundation and that constitute the body of creative work of Azzedine Alaïa.

Azzedine Alaïa, curator at heart, carefully preserved all of his work since the beginning of his career beneath the historic vaults located underneath the buildings that stretch from the rue de la Verrerie to the rue de Moussy. It was his secret cavern where no one was permitted to enter. Covering some 800 square meters, with grand volumes, almost 4 meter high ceilings, and dozens of red brick pillars and metal beams, this space which for a time was used as a warehouse for the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, supports the entire building: exhibition halls with the large glass roof whose courtyard façade surmounted by a stone pediment is a listed historic monument, the atelier of Monsieur Alaïa and his private apartments.

This immense space at 18 rue de la Verrerie bore witness to the incessant comings and goings of the couturier who would come to deposit there, year after year, his collections. It has become the memory, the sanctuary and it will remain the guardian of a life’s work.

22,000 pieces of clothing and accessories, preserved by Azzedine Alaia over the seasons that he has sculpted to sublimate women since the 1960s.

With the support of the Richemont group, the Foundation undertakes in 2020 important renovation works to meet the standards for preventative conservation as defined by the laws dating January 4th 2002 relative to the museums of France. The space will be air-conditioned and equipped with high-performance water infiltration detection systems and fire safety systems with extinction devices.

  • before renovation PH. ANDREA & VALENTINA

  • RENOVATION, CLEAN-UP AND DEHUMIDIFICATION WORKS PH. ANDREA & VALENTINA

Composed of three spaces located at different altitudes and connected by staircases in a volume of 1000m², the project articulates the creation of an archive dedicated to the personal collection of the fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa. The space is compartmentalised in order to provide the necessary conditions for the archiving of textile works. Mobile "compactus" cabinets are being implemented to house approximately 15,000 items. Within the framework of this renovation, particular attention is being paid to the scenography of this place. The ensemble enhances the existing vaulted ceiling and solid bricks which constitute a remarkable building heritage from the end of the 19th century.

  • renovation and rehabilitation works ph. Sylvie Delpech

  • renovation and rehabilitation works ph. Sylvie Delpech

  • renovation and rehabilitation works ph. Sylvie Delpech

  • renovation and rehabilitation works ph. Sylvie Delpech

history of fashion

For many years now, I have been buying and receiving the dresses,coats, and jackets that tell the story of the great history of fashion.It has become for me an almost institutional behavior to preserve them… Azzedine Alaïa

A passionate historian, Azzedine Alaïa has been a lifelong collector of the work of the great masters of fashion. The Foundation's mission is to perpetuate Azzedine Alaïa's exceptional private collection through the conservation, the preservation, the archiving, the promotion and exhibition to the public of the collections of garments, accessories, sketches, designs, drawings and photographs.

The archives of the Azzedine Alaïa collection, photograph by Robert Polidori

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

  • Azzedine Alaïa showing how to drape a dress designed by Vionnet, Azzedine alaïa gallery, 1990 ph. patricia canino

It would be the closure of a great Fashion House that led Azzedine Alaïa to widen the spectrum of his collection to include the great masters of Couture. In 1968, when Cristóbal Balenciaga decided to close his house, Mademoiselle Renée, who had worked for many decades beside the Spanish master and who was concerned about the fate of the dresses, called Azzedine Alaïa and proposed that he come to select some of the dresses to rework them as he wished. Impressed by the maestria of Balenciaga evident in the cut of the dresses, coats, and suits before him, he decided to conserve them exactly as they were for the rest of his life. The vulnerable heritage that he saves reveals to him his vocation as a collector of fashion, in parallel to his own creative work.

“Some months before his passing, Azzedine Alaïa recounted with fondness this moment, which sparked in him a realization of the significance of the history of fashion and a lasting respect which he would continue to cultivate. From that moment onwards, he maintained a growing, soon unbridled interest in all sources of fashion’s collective memory. Because despite his means, limited at first, then more comfortable as his success grew, Alaïa quickly became a collector eager to preserve all things.”
Olivier Saillard, fashion historian, director of the Foundation

Since the end of the 1960s, he would nurture this interest in clothes with specific techniques. He became particularly passionate about clothes from the 1930s and 1950s. By the hundreds, then the thousands, Alaïa surrounded himself with dresses by Paul Poiret, Madame Grès, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, and of course Cristóbal Balenciaga.

  • madame grès © DR

  • madame grès © DR

  • madame grès © DR

  • madame grès © DR

He also became a major collector of the work of Adrian, a couturier rarely present in French museums. He and the American couturier had a particular client in common, Greta Garbo. Alaïa’s collection, over one hundred pieces, is a faithful representation of all of the facets of the Hollywood couturier.

  • Adrian, THE COUTURE YEARS 1942-1952 ph. Andrea & VALENTINA

  • Adrian, THE COUTURE YEARS 1942-1952 ph. Andrea & VALENTINA

  • Adrian, THE COUTURE YEARS 1942-1952 ph. Andrea & VALENTINA

  • Adrian, THE COUTURE YEARS 1942-1952 ph. Andrea & VALENTINA

Azzedine Alaïa was also an altruistic collector: in 1987, at the request of Maryline Vigouroux, the wife of the Mayor at the time, he accompanied and provided his support to the city of Marseille in its project to create a museum of fashion. Honorary President of the institution Maison de Mode Méditerranée, he donated 100 Alaïa pieces to help constitute the collection of the fledgling museum, and he would guide them, being a veritable expert and connoisseur of auction sales, in their acquisitions of pieces by Mariano Fortuny, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, etc.

Throughout his life, this compulsive collector would diligently follow auctions and sales, sometimes bidding against fashion museums from all over the world in order to obtain the finest pieces. In 2005, Alaïa takes part in a project of an exceptional auction at Drouot auction house: “La Création en liberté. Univers de Paul et Denise Poiret 1905-1928”. He in fact held in the great glass roofed hall at 18 rue de la Verrerie an exhibition of the items in the sale, comprised entirely of dresses that Paul Poiret had created especially for his wife Denise, and that their descendants had carefully preserved. Of course, Alaïa could not resist the temptation to acquire a number of the pieces.

He also took part in another auction project, held in July of 2009 at Drouot “Elsa Schiaparelli: Wardrobe from 1935 to 1950”, presenting in his gallery a selection of the finest pieces in avant-première before the auction.

"In more than one way, and more often than was expected, Alaïa came to save from perdition or oblivion, the names and garments amongst the most sought after in fashion today, and that now, thanks to him, remain here in France. Tirelessly, the couturier collected the velvet remnants of the past in search of the techniques at work, those which shape the greatest of destinies and came to determine his own." Olivier Saillard

  • Elsa Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa gallery, 2009 ph. sylvie Delpech

  • Elsa Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa gallery, 2009 ph. sylvie Delpech

  • Elsa Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa gallery, 2009 ph. sylvie Delpech

  • Elsa Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa gallery, 2009 ph. sylvie Delpech

He also studied attentively the work of his contemporaries, and acquired, as would an astute curator of contemporary fashion, the most emblematic pieces of his era, with clothes by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela, Yojhi Yamamoto, Rick Owens, etc.

I want to build a foundation, and put my entire archive in it as well. I want to do some exhibitions eventually. It's something for the young people to see how some of the great couturiers worked.

All of the pieces selected by Monsieur Alaïa testify to his passion as a collector and his love of fashion history. This prestigious collection of the masters of Couture composed and collected over the course of his lifetime is worthy of the greatest fashion museums of the world.
Conscious of its inestimable value and rarity, Azzedine Alaïa decided to bequeath the collection to his eponymous Foundation. This collection constitutes one of the most important departments of the Foundation’s archives, alongside the creations of Azzedine Alaïa.

the art and photography collection

Art came first to me. When fashion tires me, with collections and dresses, I turn my attention to art and I calm down. Azzedine Alaïa

azzedine alaïa, rue de bellechasse, 1966 ph. jean-pierre ronzel

The first important work of art that he purchased was a small scultpure of a Coptic head, bought from a small shop in 1963. He would later learn that this little statuette had once belonged to the Countess Greffulhe, who provided Marcel Proust with the inspiration for the character the Duchess of Guermantes. This piece of art would accompany him throughout his life, like a talisman.

Over the course of his lifetime Azzedine Alaïa also collected paintings, art objects, and the works of by artists friends such as César or Julian Schnabel.

azzedine alaïa, in his room by Jean Prouvé, 2007 PH. floriane de lassée

Photography has always been very important for Azzedine Alaïa, since his youth in Tunisia. Friends with the greatest photographers of our time, for the images for his book  Azzedine Alaïa he called upon Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Ellen von Unwerth, Martine Barrat. Sharing a brotherly friendship with Gilles Bensimon and Jean-Paul Goude, he worked with and collected the work of Horst, Sarah Moon, Irving Penn…

"entre l'art et la mode" carla sozzani collection

conservation

When I see beautiful clothes, I want to keep them, preserve them...clothes, like architecture and art, reflect an era. Azzedine Alaïa

The Foundation’s mission is to preserve, study, create a digital inventory of, and showcase the collections.It will also be responsible for the rotation and protection of the works exhibited and will ensure a detailed documentation of each of the works thanks to a digital database.

The Foundation entrusts a team of professional archivists with the preventive conservation of the collection, its maintenance, restoration and storage.

The Foundation’s role also includes the inventory and conservation of a large collection of documents, drawings, photographs and patterns of the work of Azzedine Alaïa in addition to drawings and photographs from other couture houses, 19th century fabric swatch catalogues, and magazines from 1900 to today.

the preparation of the exhibition at the Borghese Gallery, Rome, 2015 ph. said