The exhibit, conceived and co-curated by Alaïa and Mark Wilson, his longtime collaborator and Chief Curator of the Groninger Museum, showcases over 60 examples of rare and iconic Alaïa creations from throughout his career, including the gold bead dress Tina Turner rocked, the purple cowled dress Grace Jones glowered from in A View To A Kill, and the smoking, black zipped dress immortalized by Naomi Campbell.
Carla Sozzani, founding Editor-in-Chief of Italian Elle, was delighted to also find “her” dress there. As she explained, “Azzedine called it the Carla dress, because I was fired from Italian Elle when I wanted to put that dress on a cover. He was so delighted and proud, of me.”
A series of screens designed by friends, collaborators and artists Alaïa collected –Marc Newson, Kris Ruhs, Konstantin Grcic, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and his life partner, Christoph von Weyhe – divide his designs into thematic suites and highlight their sculptural quality. The show reveals details of his life and career, including that he studied sculpture at art school in Tunis before wanting to become a couturier, and features Richard Wentworth’s intimate portraits of Alaïa’s home life and headquarters in the Marais, where the beloved designer hosted fashion week shows and lavish meals.
Further insight is provided by personal quotes and inspiration that he took from fashion, art, photography and design. One quote in particular explains the timeless quality of his creations:“My obsession is to make women beautiful. When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion.” Indeed, he took years to complete certain works and showed them when he felt ready, not when the fashion calendar dictated. As Alice Black, co-director of the Design Museum, put it, “Alaïa didn’t see his work as collections. He saw it as a lifetime of ideas.” His lifetime of ideas is on display until 7 October 2018.