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Azzedine AlaÏa, one of the world’s greatest designers, was admired for never succumbing to trends and believing in his visions as he dressed some of the most powerful women in the world during a career that spanned decades.
AlaÏa died Nov. 18 in Paris from an apparent heart attack at the age of 82.
Born in Tunisia, he was a symbol of rebellion. Known for using fabric to praise the female form, he was dubbed the “King of Cling”, a nod to his bod-con fashions. Having studied sculpture, AlaÏa had a unique perspective on the way fashion should be created.
He rejected what the fashion industry had become and used his work to shift fashion back to its original art form. He believed that fashion had been corrupted by business and branding, and in turn was misguiding society into strict norms. His seductive designs were assertive, forcing the public think and feel in new and even uncomfortable ways, thus starting a fashion movement.
He rejected what the fashion industry had become and used his work to shift fashion back to its original art form.
Supported by some of the most powerful French fashion editors, AlaÏa shot to fame in the 1980s. Recognized for his unapologetic designs, his clothing attracted those craving to stand out during an era of extravagance and excess.
As a young and promising designer, Azzedine AlaÏa began his career working as a tailleur for Christian Dior in 1957. He took his talents to several Parisian design houses before opening his own atelier in the late 1970s where he would dress some of Paris’ most prominent socialites. AlaÏa, who was notoriously discrete, had an ongoing list of private clients, adding to his allure and mystery.
His independence set him apart from several artists. It was his vision that mattered, not the demand. AlaÏa rarely followed any sort of calendar. He ignored pressures to change his designs every season. He, instead, would reveal his work when he deemed it ready. In addition to haute couture, AlaÏa created ready-to-wear collections that reflected his unwavering talent.
His uncompromising demeanor translated into his designs. The creativity and intricacy of AlaÏa’s pieces is astounding and will forever remain his signature. AlaÏa’s collections exhibited that fashion is not just clothing it is architecture. His designs were bold and progressive while remaining timeless.
AlaÏa dressed women on and for their bodies. Powerful women such as Lady Gaga and former U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama wore AlaÏa’s designs. These women represent his message of strength and independence AlaÏa projected through his collections.
Gifted the nickname “Papa” by several supermodels, AlaÏa served as a guardian of sorts to women like Naomi Campbell who stepped onto the fashion scene around the time AlaÏa’s career took off. AlaÏa is admired for never succumbing to trends and for believing in his visions. After his passing, celebrities took to social media to mourn the death of an icon.
AlaÏa’s pieces speak for themselves and stand as representations of the inner-workings of the mind of a fashion genius. He has shifted the concept of fashion and what it means to be a designer. AlaÏa denied the commercialization of fashion and reverted it back to its purest form – art. His magnetic presence and influence left a mark on the fashion world; he will never be forgotten. ■