“King Of Cling” Azzedine Alaia Has Passed Away
“Shocked and speechless…No words to describe the loss of a true genius, one of the greatest of our time….Azzedine, you will be forever missed,” writes fashion designer Alber Elbaz on Instagram.
Elbaz—along with many celebrities and fellow fashion industry insiders like Donatella Versace, Riccardo Tisci, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Zac Posen, Brian Atwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Emmanuelle Alt, Ines de la Fressange, Alexander Wang, Linda Evangelista, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, and Rihanna—gave tribute to fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, who passed away yesterday in Paris at the age of 77. The iconic couturier died due to heart failure.
Alaia was born in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia in North Africa, to parents who were wheat farmers. He had a twin sister, who reportedly helped ignite his passion for fashion. This love was sustained by pages upon pages of Vogue magazine that reinforced his penchant for creativity. He also developed love for the arts at a young age, and found his way into the local Institut Supérieur des Beaux Arts in Tunis to study sculpture.
In an interview with Vogue, he said, “When I couldn’t be an amazing sculptor, I changed direction.” That’s when he rediscovered his love for fashion and humbly started a career in the industry as a dressmaker’s assistant.
When he moved to Paris in 1957, he had stints at Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, and Thierry Mugler. This fashion background earned him the trust of the likes of actress Greta Garbo and French socialite Marie-Hélène de Rothschild whom he privately dressed.
Come 1980, Alaia showcased his first ready-to-wear collection, wherein his leather creations wowed with their impeccable fit and new take on sexy. It is perhaps his sculpture background that allowed him to create clothes that hugged the women’s body perfectly to a point where they felt like second skin, thus earning him the moniker “King of Cling.” That collection marked the launch of his eponymous fashion label which would later become a powerful and well-respected brand in the fashion industry.
In 1988, he opened boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills, and Paris, and his expertise was sought by celebrities and fashionistas like Grace Jones, Tina Turner, Madonna, Raquel Welch, Stephanie Seymour (whose wedding gown was created by Alaia), and Naomi Campbell.
Following the death of his twin sister, Alaia left the mainstream fashion scene and catered to a private clientele in his atelier. The designer resurfaced in 2000, when he partnered with the Prada group. In July 2007, he bought back his fashion house from Prada but left them the control over his footwear and leather goods. That same year, Richemont invested in his business.
Since then, Alaia has established himself as an unconventional designer, who refused to conform to trends and follow the industry-dictated fashion calendar. He would showcase a collection whenever he thought he was ready to. This is why it took him eight years to do a runway show again, for his Fall 2011 collection, which was well received and applauded.
Alaia made his couture comeback in July and showcased his Autumn/Winter 2017 Couture collection, with Naomi Campbell opening and closing his show; Naomi endearingly called him “Papa.”
This last show, in all its masterful and timeless glory, seemed like a fitting finale to the career of a true genius.
Photos from @azzedinealaiaofficial