Azzedine Alaïa: Sculptor of Fashion

Azzedine Alaïa shot by Patrick Demarchelier

Azzedine Alaïa, world-renowned French-Tunisian stylist and legendary fashion designer, has been making fashion history since the 1980s. A self-taught artist and a great lover of the female body, his art applies itself to playing with shapes and curves, volumes and materials. Sculpting the dresses on the skin of his models, his dresses are built and cut, as if shaped in the flesh, marrying the feminine forms with a grace never seen before in the fashion world. Where art meets fashion, discover an audacious and ambitious bet that pays tribute to the universal beauty of the female body.

Azzedine Alaïa: A self-taught demiurge in love with women

The designer in his sewing workshop in Paris

Guided from his childhood by this need to express himself through artistic creation, Azzedine Alaïa began by studying sculpture at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis. At the same time, he shapes his beginnings in the world of fashion by replicating with a frightening accuracy models of Dior or Balmain dresses for his neighbors and women of the great families of Tunis. Years later, he even created a piece similar to Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress. From the moment he arrived in Paris, his talent and growing potential appealed to the female members of the capital’s great families. Indeed, he gradually built up a private clientele that would continue to grow.

He has been learning his trade by the women’s bodies, with his own hands since the 1950s. Moreover, painting, sculpture and architecture are the three disciplines that feed his insatiable passion to create. Combining the virtuosity of painting with the dexterity of architecture, the dexterity of sculpture, without forgetting the technicality of sewing, form and body unite to become one in his mind. His only goal? To embellish and reveal the beauty of the female body. Finally, Azzedine embodies this new generation of designers who make their mark on the mind through creations that display the body with singularity and poetry. He comes to shake up the fashion codes that were until now mainly orchestrated by the great haute couture houses such as Givenchy or Saint Laurent.

Innovative and non-conformist fashion designer

Elle magazine cover in tribute to Azzedine Alaïa

As a true connoisseur, he assimilates with extreme harmony and continuity all kinds of fabrics, each one more surprising and extravagant than the other. 1979 is an emblematic year, indeed it will give birth to his very first collection. This will propel him later on to the forefront of a new conception and apprehension of fashion. By materializing through his artistic creations, his will have to rethink the definition of the material, he deconstructs the limits granted by the commands of fashion. Leather, jersey and stretch, materials rarely used in haute couture, become delicate and sensual fabrics. These fabrics drape women’s bodies with such accuracy that they seem to be in continuity with their skin.

Alaïa models women’s bodies like a sculptor. He neither dresses nor covers it, on the contrary, it is like the woman is cut out of the fabric: “When I work on the garment, it has to revolve around the body, in profile and from the back”. An arch is drawn while a chiffon petticoat is built thanks to the skillful scaffolding of a mesh architecture belted with eyelets. His curious approach to fashion and his unique universe sets him apart from his contemporaries. A universe of forms that Azzedine has built around the materials worked directly on the body. Precursor or not, one thing is sure Alaïa is an artist, an artist who loves women.