ARCHIVING FASHION

I have to archive everything, all the big ones who have left their mark and who play a big role in the history of fashion. I will also have every single one of my own collections, in several variations. Azzedine Alaïa

azzedine alaïa © azzedine alaïa foundation

Conserving and preserving the collections, treasures of patience and passion that Azzedine Alaïa built over almost five decades, is the first and fundamental mission of the Foundation that Azzedine Alaïa adamantly calls for.

” When Azzedine founded the Azzedine Alaïa Association in 2007, he wanted it to become a foundation of public interest. He wanted these treasures bringing together sixty years of his work and his vast collection of art, design and fashion pieces he had collected since 1968 to be displayed to the public and studied by young designers and fashion designers. He wanted to share his knowledge with future generations.”

“Under the leadership of Olivier Saillard, the future of the Foundation will meet the most ambitious objectives, with exhibitions, conferences, courses, and Alaïa scholarships. Archiving this huge collection is the first step and a crucial part of the process to make Azzedine’s dream come true.”

Carla Sozzani and Christoph von Weyhe

THE MODULE OF THE MASTERS PROGRAM 

The Foundation’s Partneship with Parsons School

 

Since 2019, the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation and the Parsons Paris school of art and design, have come together to create a research partnership focusing on the incredible collection constituted by Azzedine Alaïa. This collaboration aims to publicize one of the greatest collections of historical Haute Couture fashion in the world, whilst simultaneously presenting to students the principles and the ideologies particular to the archiving of fashion.

Affiliated to the Parsons School of Design in New York, the Masters Degree program in Fashion Studies at the Parson Paris school is the first program in this particular domain to become available in France, and one of very few available in the world. In this program, fashion is examined as a cultural phenomenon involving all practices linked to the production, the diffusion, the representation, and the consumption of garments. The Fashion Studies program focuses notably on questions of mondialisation, sustainable development, heritage conservation, identity and day-to-day consumption of garments, technological innovation, the future of digital fashion, etc. Particular attention is paid to the interaction between theory and practice and students cover all of these subjects with seminaries, conferences and master-classes led by professors and professionals in fashion.

The module of the Masters program on which the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation and the Parson’s school collaborate looks at archiving practices and the Couture pieces of the private collection gathered by the couturier. This collection rich in over 8000 exceptional historical pieces by Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madame Grès or Madeleine Vionnet for example, but also by more avant-garde designers of the late 20th century (Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto) is in the process of being inventoried.

“This is a unique opportunity for students in Fashion Studies at Parsons School of Design. The archive of Monsieur Alaïa is one of the most extensive and unique archives in the history of fashion. It is not only a history of couture but also a crucial testimony to the ways in which Azzedine Alaïa collected other designers and couturiers. Archives of fashion are not only assemblages of garments but they are an opportunity to rethink fashion and the ways in which it remains.” Marco Pecorari, Program Director MA Fashion Studies, The New School Parsons Paris.

2020 « ARCHIVER LA MODE » PAUL POIRET

under the direction of Marco Pecorari

 

A friend of mine, Françoise Auguet organised the sale of clothes from the Poiret collection. The family wanted to sell everything, everything that Madame Poiret had worn and that had enchanted all of Paris. It broke my heart. I admired her husband a lot.

  • azzedine alaïa in his gallery ph. azzedine alaïa foundation

  • paul poiret exhibition, azzedine alaïa gallery ph. azzedine alaïa foundation

  • paul poiret exhibition, azzedine alaïa gallery ph. azzedine alaïa foundation

  • paul poiret exhibition, azzedine alaïa gallery ph. azzedine alaïa foundation

The students of the Parsons Paris school were asked to work on the subject of the economical and cultural value of fashion, which has evolved greatly over the course of the last thirty years. Fashion has begun to be more and more frequently exhibited in museums. Important auction houses have opened departments specifically dedicated to fashion and regularly organize auctions of clothing, accessories and fashion photographs. Couture houses have become aware of the importance of preserving their archives, and they organize more and more events and activities centered around their own heritage, and private foundations and museums dedicated to designers of fashion are emerging.

Azzedine Alaïa was a visionary in that he became aware very early of this heritage value : from the creation of his house, he scrupulously preserved everything that was produced in his atelier and began in 1968 his collection of historical fashion.

I offered my place to this friend as a base to choose the clothes, clean them and exhibit them. I suggested inviting photographers to make sure there’d be some trace of it. In the end, the exhibition did take place. We discovered pieces of unimaginable quality, and there was even a catalogue. It was fantastic.

To examine this subject, the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation provided the students of the Master’s program with an excellent case study, that of one of the most important auctions in the world: “La creation en liberté. Univers de Denise et Paul Poiret” organized by the auction house Piasa Paris in May of 2005, with the support of Monsieur Alaïa who presented at 18 rue de la Verrerie a large exhibition of the Poiret collection. This auction constitutes a landmark in the history of auctions of fashion.

The students of the Master’s program worked on the historic impact of this auction for museums and collectors, whilst having the opportunity to study pieces from the auction, purchased by Azzedine Alaïa and which are now in the care of the Foundation.

The results of their research are to be rendered in December 2020, with the publication of a book.

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • gaël mamine © parsons paris

  • gaël mamine © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

2019 “ARCHIVING FASHION” CRISTÓBAL BALENCIAGA

in collaboration with the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, curators Jessica Glasscock and Marco Pecorari

I started collecting in 1968 when Balenciaga closed his house. I was already at Bellechasse. One  of the dresses was from the 1955 runway show. There were the tags with the names of the models. All of a sudden I had this shock about haute couture. I said : It’s sad that the house closes, and everything disappears. So I began to collect.

Under the direction of Jessica Glasscock, associate researcher at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the students discovered in the first semester the cataloguing practices before reflecting on possible innovations for the indexation of museum archives. Concentrating on the works of Cristobal Balenciaga carefully gathered by Azzedine Alaïa, the students also explored means of documentation through textual, visual, and oral recordings.

balenciaga ph. DR

Over a period of three weeks, from July 1st to July 18th 2019, the students had the unique opportunity to work on one of the greatest collections of fashion, in the archives of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. The course explored the historical collections assembled by Azzedine Alaïa over the course of his life, with a particular focus on one part of his Balenciaga collection.

During the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week 2019, the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation and the Parsons Paris school held the first conference of their educational program “Archiving Fashion” and presented their first summer course for Master’s students in the courtyard of 18 rue de la Verrerie, on the theme “Archiving Fashion”.

This event open to the public presented the results of the work of the students and initiated exchanges on the practice of archiving historical fashion heritage with the participation of specialists: Marie-Andrée Jouve (author and fashion historian), Christoph von Weyhe (Founder of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation), Olivier Saillard (fashion historian, Azzedine Alaïa Foundation board member), et Jessica Glasscock (Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of New York).

jessica Glasscock ph. Julien Mouffron-Gardner

“I feel tremendously lucky to have access to the Alaïa archive and, through it, a chance to investigate a true 20th century master designer through the works he collected. Most of all, I am excited to connect students with Monsieur Alaïa’s lifetime of collecting. I have been working in museums and as a fashion professor for nearly two decades, and I know what an incredible opportunity is being offered to students in this moment.” Jessica Glasscock, Research Associate, Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of New York.

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © parsons paris

  • archiving fashion © marco pecorari

jessica glasscock extract from the conference archiving fashion © azzedine alaïa foundation

ph. Julien Mouffron-Gardner