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| June 2018

For the very first time, the work of Tunisian-born couturier Azzedine Alaïa is being exhibited in the UK. An installation showcasing his most significant work has recently opened at The Design Museum and we were there in search of inspiration from this pioneer of the fashion world.

‘I make clothes, women make fashion’

Co-curated by the late Alaïa himself, the exhibition brings together over 60 rare garments alongside personal quotes, photographs and a series of specially commissioned architectural screens made by friends and key contemporary design figures Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Marc Newson, Kris Ruhs and Alaïa’s life long partner, Christoph von Weyhe.

‘Art came first, for me.’

Alaïa originally trained as a sculptor, his deep understanding of the human form allowed him to skillfully construct highly fitted, second skin dresses that both enhanced and flattered the female body. Thinking with his hands, he would drape fabrics directly onto his favourite models to create the perfect silhouette. The ‘rebellious outsider’ of couture considered his work to be closer to architecture than fashion and often referred to himself as a builder.

‘I always feel free. When I don’t want something I don’t make it.’

An outsider in the fashion industry, Alaïa was famously unaffected by its demanding calendar, only holding shows when the clothes were ready to be revealed. A hands-on perfectionist, he created timeless garments, unrivalled in quality, for everyone from Greta Garbo to Grace Jones.

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier is at The Design Museum from 10th May to 7th October 2018.