Legendary fashion designer Azzedine Alaia has passed away in Paris at the age of 77.
Dubbed the “King of Cling” Alaia’s sculptural clothes won him legions of fans around the world and he counted women such as Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones, Madonna and the late Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani as devotees.
New British Vogue editor Edward Enninful has paid tribute to the designer saying: “Azzedine Alaïa was a true visionary, and a remarkable man. He will be deeply missed by all of those who knew and loved him, as well as by the women around the world who wore his clothes. The generosity of his spirit and genius of his designs will never be forgotten.”
Born in 1940 in Tunisia, Alaia studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Tunis before moving to Paris in 1957, where he first worked for Christian Dior then Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler before establishing his own atelier in his apartment in the rue de Bellechasse in the late 1970s. He launched his first ready to wear line in 1980 and by 1988 he had stores in Paris and in New York and Beverley Hills.
During the mid-1990s, he withdrew from the fashion scene following the death of his sister, but he continued to work for private clients and enjoyed commercial success with his ready-to-wear line. He went on to sign a partnership with Prada in 2000 and in 2007 he bought back his house from Prada, and luxury conglomerate Richemont bought a significant stake in his business.
Alaia, however, remained resolutely independent and wouldn’t show his collections during Fashion Weeks and nor did he succumb to trends or the temptations of mass-marketing. He was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur from the French government in 2008.
Having departed the couture calendar in 2011, Alaia made a surprise return with a warmly received show in July of this year in which Naomi Campbell, whose career he is credited with helping to launch, made an appearance.