Exhibition 09.27.2023 - 01.21.2024

Azzedine Alaïa, couturier and collector

For many years now, I've been buying and receiving dresses, coats and jackets that reflect the glorious history of fashion. It has become part of my corporate attitude to preserve them, a mark of solidarity with those who, before me, knew the pleasures and demands of the scissor. It is my personal tribute to all the crafts and all the ideas that these garments embody. Azzedine Alaïa

Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Cristóbal Balenciaga ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

Ten years after the major retrospective devoted to him at the Palais Galliera, Azzedine Alaïa (1935-2017) is back in the spotlight with an exhibition showcasing the remarkable heritage collection he amassed over the years, and which has never been exhibited before.

Azzedine Alaïa was a virtuoso cutter. His technical skills stemmed from his deep admiration for the couturiers of the past and from his long experience with the clients he so expertly served.

Alaïa was also an exceptional collector. He started in 1968 with some exquisite pieces acquired when Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his fashion house. He found studying the haute couture creations of the Spanish master enthralling and it led to a passion for the history of his own discipline.

Alaïa collected over 20,000 pieces documenting the art of his predecessors, from the birth of haute couture in the late 19th century to pieces by some of his contemporaries. He was the world’s foremost collector of some of the most prestigious couturiers, including Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Madame Grès, Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel, Made- leine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. Contemporary creation is represented by pieces by Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler and Yohji Yamamoto....

The exhibition features some 140 exceptional pieces tracing the history of this priceless collection, which Alaïa built up in total secrecy. Nobody saw it during his lifetime, neither in France nor elsewhere.

  • Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Madeleine Vionnet ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

  • Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Gabrielle Chanel ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

  • Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Elsa Schiaparelli ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

  • Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Paul Poiret ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

  • Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga par Nicolas Ghesquière, Comme des garçons par Rei Kawabuko, Dior par John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Junya Watanabe, Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto ©Palais Galliera/Paris Musées-Gautier Deblonde

To conclude their tour, visitors are invited to cross over to the Salle Matisse in the Musée d’Art Moderne, opposite the Palais Galliera, Three stage costumes designed by Henri Matisse for the Ballets Russes in 1919 are on display there  typical of the dialogue between fashion and art so dear to Azzedine Alaïa.

Azzedine Alaïa, couturier Collectionneur, stage costume designed by Henri matisse for the ballets russes en 1919 - salle Matisse, musée d'Art Moderne ph. Sylvie Delpech