Alaïa’s Tati

Azzedine Alaïa’s curiosity for exploring all things new and unique is legendary. His wide-ranging interests in art, architecture, music, and global cultures would often bring forward new and unexpected insights into both contemporary dialogue and the tempo of the times. Fashion and art always influenced his approach to couture. So it was not unusual that in 1991, art once again opened another path, expanding the world of Azzedine’s fashion. As always, his eye saw the pulse of the times. Inspired by his friend Julian Schnabel’s paintings, Alaïa was the first to take couture to the street. “It happened thanks to my friend Julian Schnabel, he wanted to make paintings with the vichy check fabric that was in fact the signature emblem of Tati”. Alaïa’s spontaneous and fresh approach to fashion led him to create what would later become a marketing model – collaborations between high fashion and street fashion – appearing for the first time on the Alaïa runway with the Tati collection. As he would later say when asked about the iconic spring-summer 1991 outing, “with Tati I learned many things, another way to look at fashion”. He used the trademark pink and white vichy check print fabric of the popular shopping store TATI, where every day Parisians would hunt for the best bargains. The history of the TATI stores was a part of Paris, part of the life of the city, and a part of his own journey from Tunisia through the working class neighborhoods where the TATI checked pattern could be seen. To join his world of Parisian couture with the streets of Paris was his pride. He would add the black and white and the blue and white patterns, something new for Tati, exclusive to the Alaïa collection, and he would offer his designs to customers at the lowest price in a small collection consisting of a bag, a T shirt, and a pair of espadrilles to be sold at TATI stores. Oh, Alaïa…

La Collection Tati, curated by Olivier Saillard, on view until 05.01.2020 at Association Azzedine Alaïa in Paris.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

L’Association Azzedine Alaïa

The breast sculpture by César, Alaïa’s long-time friend.

L’Association Azzedine Alaïa is all things close to Monsieur Azzedine Alaïa and his two, closest people – Christoph Von Weyhe and Carla Sozzani. La Librairie, the maison’s bookstore within the late couturier’s house on rue de la Verrerie, opened its doors back in November. A café is also located in this silent, chic spot, which used to house a small boutique run by Alaïa’s twin sister Hafida. And in the same hidden square of Le Marais, there’s the gallery that celebrates Azzedine’s creations and visions with temporary exhibitions curated by Olivier Saillard. Until 23rd of June, you can see the brilliant Adrian and Alaïa. The Art of Tailoring curation, which is a pararrel exhibition presenting a dialogue between Azzedine and Gilbert Adrian, the Old Hollywood-era designer held in great esteem by Alaïa. The exhibition highlights the subtle transmission of elegance and style that can happen between two great couturiers even when separated by decades and continents as they both focus on executing the same garments – the construction of the jacket. Seen here through exploration of fabric and form, one can follow the unspoken heritage moving from a master’s eye to the hand of another master as only the best talents can do. Preseted in a pairing of a number of suits over the course of their respective careers, two couturiers share their imaginary conversation in an industrial, former warehouse space. Azzedine collected Adrian’s tailoring that used to be worn by the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford back in the 1940s and 1950s, and studied them with passion. Sharing many sympathies with Adrian in the execution of design, and a shared obsession for perfection, Alaïa would spend nights around the same black jacket. Trained as a sculptor, he became the master of cut and fit. With Mr. Adrian’s contribution.

18 rue de la Verrerie / Paris

Photos by Edward Kanarecki and from the exhibition’s release.

7 Rue de Moussy

Le Marais’ 7 rue de Moussy is the address that gives me those good goosebumps. It’s Azzedine Alaïa’s flagship store, which is also the brand’s headquarters (and as well used to be Alaïa‘s home and studio, just above the spacious boutique). I love this place so much and I will never forget seeing the man himself here few years ago, taking a run through the racks and disappearing behind the doors of his atelier. His spirit is all over the place. This didn’t change at all throughout the time. And what’s most important, the soul of Azzedine is preserved by the maison, and thankfully not “rebranded”. There’s the untouched Julian Schnabel artwork leaning against the wall. The fitting room, where I imagine Naomi Campbell tries on her dresses. All the design treasures Azzedine hand-picked himself for the space. For me, it’s one of the most sentimental places in Paris. A post on Association Azzedine Alaïa and its foundation is coming up!

7 rue de Moussy / Paris