I only draw to jot down my work so that I don’t forget. I make a pattern on calque paper, and I cut it out and attach it to a piece of paper with a pin. Then I begin working on a tailor’s dummy, but I need a person for the fittings. Because a woman walks, her body moves, and I need to see how the fabric behaves on her. Azzedine Alaïa
azzedine alaïa in his studio © azzedine alaïa foundation
His studio is located on the first floor, between his fitting room and his private living apartments. The studio remains exactly as he left it, with the last dress he was working on, on the tailor’s dummy.
It was always very overcrowded with things. There are shelves and hangers full of clothes, unfinished toiles, stacks of boxes piled up against the walls, rolls of fabric, things everywhere spread out on or under the tables, catalogues from auction houses… On the wall directly in front of his work table, photographs of his closest friends and the photograph of Oum Kalthoum. On the wall beside him, a large mirror for fittings.
Naomi Campbell and Azzedine Alaïa, fitting © azzedine alaïa foundation
For the fittings, I always ask the model to walk and to sit. My dresses must vibrate on their own. Women help me a lot ! The clothes must move in accordance with the body.
In 2023, on 26 February, the day Azzedine Alaïa was born, the Foundation will unveil to the public for the first time a place that has been kept secret since the designer’s death on 18 November 2017: Azzedine Alaïa’s Studio.
This is undoubtedly the place most imbued with the memory of Monsieur Alaïa: every corner of this room tells of the couturier but also of the man he was.
Visitors will now be able to discover Azzedine Alaïa’s Studio through a window, and imagine the couturier at work, day or night, in his den, and also dream of fitting sessions with the most beautiful models in the world.
view of azzedine Alaïa's studio ph. Sylvie Delpech
« A poetic Capernaum, where ideas are born and take shape, the atelier of Azzedine Alaïa, represents the heart within the body of the designer’s couture house and private apartments. In this island of creation, located on the first floor, nestled between his fitting room and his private living quarters, the atelier distills the memories of the most beautiful Alaïa collections. Since 1987, it is here in the place familiarly known as his studio that the couturier invents, conceives, cuts and molds the dresses that constitute the timeless architectures of fashion.
It is here, in this forest of racks of clothes in the making, dresses awaiting completion, that Azzedine Alaïa would find sanctuary in the evenings and late into the night. When the last of his friends would leave the kitchen, another hub of vitality in which resides much of the spirit of the Alaïa house, he would go upstairs and come to sit down at his worktable.
In his uniform of midnight black, Alaïa would set out to work through to the dawn. One would see him pinning the form of a sleeve, then nervously removing those same pointed pieces of metal, and to those not trained in the techniques of cut and pattern drafting, Alaïa.would seem much like a construction foreman. Graduated rulers, some curved like the backs of birds, serve the purpose of adjusting measurements that had become for him automatic writing. On this table, veritable mirror of the couturier’s hands, a geography of the body evolves each night. Pieces of fabric soon to become replicas and reflections of the arms, busts and hips that they would shortly caress. Into the small hours, Oum Kalthoum accompanies Azzedine in his mission. She sings as tirelessly as he cuts. On the red brick wall, Alaïa need only lift his gaze to see lifelong friends, fairy godmothers and muses who accompanied and supported him in the development of his art. Arletty, Tina Turner, Naomi, Veronica Webb, Stephanie Seymour, Carla Sozzani, Michèle Obama, Shakira, Bruce Weber, Charles Baudelaire … photographs like fallen leaves of a secret tree. To his right, a giant television screen broadcasts the wildlife documentaries that Alaïa particularly loves to watch.
azzedine Alaïa's studio ph. Sylvie Delpech
The following morning, the models can come back to him. In front of the large mirror surrounded by a gilt frame, fittings take place and corrections are applied. Alaïa pins together and takes apart on the sublime bodies jackets, coats, and evening dresses in various stages of completion yet no less sublime.
In this peculiar den where rolls of fabric muffle voices and footsteps, entire and notorious collections have been realized, eternal dresses have been born thanks to the great art of Alaïa, the last reigning couturier.
Already 5 years have passed since all here was brought to silence and covered with white dustsheets. Not a single garment, nor sketch, tool, pin, or needle has been touched.
It is now time to draw back these veils of discretion and reveal once more to the public, the atelier, fortress of ideas and imagination, of the couturier.
In a subtle scenography, the visitor will be able to perceive the spirit of this unique place where the laughter, joy and passion of an occupation and vocation seem to echo still. »
Olivier Saillard, Director of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation
azzedine Alaïa's studio ph. Sylvie Delpech
When I am alone, I watch the news on televison, I watch National Geographic, or programs about history or about animals. And then I work until 6 o’clock in the morning, but I don’t feel tired because I am by myself and I am calm.
Azzedine Alaïa, fitting ph. Prosper assouline
Azzedine Alaïa, fitting, 1998 ph. prosper Assouline
azzedine alaïa in his studio ph. prosper Assouline
azzedine alaïa in his studio ph. jean-marie périer