For a man who is slight in frame (he is reported to be standing at 5'3), Azzedine Alaïa is a fashion industry behemoth. Known as the "King of Cling" for his silhouettes that are sculpted to the human body, Alaïa pieces are among the world’s most coveted and valuable. Despite being extremely private, the Tunisian-born designer boasts a list of extremely loyal influential clientele. They include supermodel Naomi Campbell, fashion insiders and editors Carine Roitfeld and Carla Sozzani, as well as celebrities such as Madonna and Cher.
It should be noted that Alaïa wasn't just any designer. He was (and still is) a designer's designer. This means that fashion designers and creative directors of brands today still look to him as the beacon of fashion inspiration, and one of the last remaining old guards of the fashion industry.
Here's a lowdown on the 10 things not many know about the incredible Azzedine Alaïa
1. While he is based in Paris and creates collections, Azzedine Alaïa does not show during Paris Fashion Week. He doesn't even show anytime during Fashion Month (which start in New York and closes in Paris).Alaïa presents his new collection each season AFTER Paris Fashion Week. The guestlist to his presentation are often super exclusive. The only celebrities that attend his presentations are those that have been wearing his clothes for many years - So, no "FROWs" celebrities such as the Kardashians.
He told WWD: "It's a question of time. There are very few of us in the studio. I have only two assistants, there is nobody else and I do alot of things myself... The truth is, I work more than all the others."
2. He only does four collections a year. And he doesn't consult or design for any other brands but his. Alaïa signs off on anything and everything that has his name imprinted on it. This means that he is involved in every single detail of the product, every step of the way, starting from the sketch all the way to its final form and on to the shop floors. "I don't do eight collections, but I'm implicated in everything from the beginning to the end. I even control the deliveries, I look at the stores, what's working, what's not.:
3. One of the best compliments he has ever received, with respect to being a designer, was getting models asking him if they could keep his dresses instead of letting him pay them for doing the shows and/or presentation. Naomi Campbell, who is a loyal fan and a friend of the designer, has spoken about this. The top model, whose worth millions of dollars, claims that she would gladly take dresses designed by Alaïa over getting paid - and she's paid ALOT.
4. Alaïa is not afraid of anyone. And by anyone, we really mean ANYONE. Not even the high priestess of fashion, Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. While he does acknowledges that Wintour runs the business (VOGUE) very well, he doesn't believe that she understands fashion. In a cadid magazine interview, Alaïa said: "When I see how [Anna Wintour] is dressed, I don't believe in her tastes one second. She hasn't photographed my work in years, even if I am the best seller in the US and I have 140 sq metres at Barneys New York... American women love me; I don't need her support. Anyway, who will remember Anna Wintour in the history of fashion? Nobody".
Can we all say, OUCH?
5. In 2011, when Alaïa staged his show in Paris, he received rave reviews from almost all major fashion publications. Almost all. Who's missing? You guessed it - VOGUE. Despite having Kanye West and even Donatella Versace at the front row of his presentation, Anna Wintour was not there. It was said that she was not invited by the designer and that the editrix in turned banned her staff from every attending his shows or featuring any of his designs.
6. He was actually offered the job at Christian Dior to replace John Galliano after the latter was fired. Alaïa turned it down because he wasn't interested.
7. Alaïa does not like Karl Lagerfeld. He has said interviews that
8. Naomi Campbell calls him "papa". She has known him since she was 16.
9. His designs have been copied by big-named designers. They include Herve Leger and Roberto Cavalli. In fact, Alaïa sued the two creative directors.
10. Cher Horowitz from Clueless was right when she said that Alaïa is a "totally important designer".