Designer Azzedine Alaïa chooses not to play the game. From his studio in the heart of Marais in Paris, Alaïa has beaten his own path, creating work that puts fashion on an altogether higher plane. He is intensely private and grants few interviews, running the studio as if he is marshalling one long, intimate family gathering.
But an exquisite 25-minute film shot by stylist Joe McKenna grants us an unusual look into Alaïa’s sanctuary. It mixes new footage with excerpts of rare films of his early shows, featuring a young Naomi Campbell, and commentary by leading fashion writers or identities, including Suzy Menkes, Grace Coddington and Nicolas Ghesquière, among others. In contrast, the only word Alaïa utters throughout the film is “no”.
“I don’t know how to make clothes like Azzedine Alaïa,” says Ghesquière. “It’s like a dream to have the capacity of having an amazing idea and to do it yourself. It’s the definitive act of a designer.” He adds: “Azzedine is a master. He’s so exclusive. There’s just nothing like him, or his clothes”. The New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman marvels at Alaïa’s understanding of women. “Azzedine is someone who really understood how a woman’s body worked,” she says. “He has no fantasies about women. He has given confidence and strength to women.”
Campbell has been friends with Alaïa for a long time and calls him “Papa”. “He’s the only one that’s never démodé. The clothes are always timeless,” she says.
See the magic at joesfilm.com