Exhibition 01.23.2022 - 06.19.2022

alaïa before alaïa

The genesis of a style

At the time I was not showing collections, I made couture for clients. He didn’t ask me many questions. He understood and analyzed. Azzedine Alaïa

azzedine alaïa, 1976 © sipa/shutterstock

” To intern at Dior”, that is the official reason why the young Azzedine Benalaïa, student at the School of Fine Arts ” l’École des beaux-arts”, decided to leave Tunis, the town where he was born, in 1956. He was 21 years old at the time. It would not be until the 13th of october 1979 that the french press, by the pen of Michel Cressole, would write the first article about him : “Azzedine Alaïa and Serge Lutens, the two lone wolves”.

What happened between the date of his arrival in Paris and him setting up his maison in rue de Bellechasse and showing his first collection of ready-to-wear in 1982 ?

“Alaïa before Alaïa”  takes a story back to the beginning, it’s genesis, to the very source of a story like no other, built by a man who invented his life, his world, his style, in the singular as in the plural. “Alaïa before Alaïa”  sets the beat for Alaïa’s time, a time which takes its roots in an oriental culture, an experience fed by learning, by curiosity, an inquisitive nature, a perpetual research. But also the observation of a Paris filled with the arts, and literature, and of which the style of Azzedine Alaïa continues to express the quintessence, because it is so very true that he is the living sum of the people he has met, the things that he has seen, has felt, has loved.

From the garments ordered by Simone Zerhfuss and Louise de Vilmorin to the furs designed for « Place de la Madeleine ». From the prototype of Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress to the coat made specially for Greta Garbo, not forgetting the first zip dresses created for Arletty in the early 70’s, the labels handpainted by Christoph von Weyhe, the perforated leather, the studs on leather and chiffon.

  • azzedine alaïa illustration by gérard failly

  • azzedine alaïa illustration by gérard failly

Clothes, photographs, objects, films, videos, images, and archive documents : “Alaïa before Alaïa” explores the anatomy of a vision, the genesis of a signature, we set apart absolutes through this « personal taste » that resists the passage of time by questioning a body of work from within, without nostalgia, with accounts from a number of people who bore witness, Latifa Ben Abdallah, Rosine Baldaccini, Didier Bernardin, Nicole de Blégiers, Silvia Bocchese, Lison Bonfils, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Dominique Modiano, Thierry Mugler, Zuleika Ponsen, Marie Rucki, Dany Saval, Fréderic Somigli, Soumaré, Carla Sozzani, Christophe Von Weyhe

As we would give suppleness to a dress, to let the body breathe, this « A before A » comes back to the source of a sensitive tale, new memories, secrets uncovered, and fixes the starting point for a new adventure, full of discoveries, of shared emotions, and to which the Foundation is showing us the way, freely.

An exhibition which becomes all the more meaningful and pertinent in a world in the throes of desire for revival and rebirth.