Azzedine Alaia cotton coat dress with César Baldaccini print, ss 1985
About the Item
Master Couturier, King of Cling: legendary fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa (1935–2017) is known by many names, each referring to his unparalleled ability to mold fabric onto the female form in unexpected and radical ways. The Tunisian-born designer spent his entire life in relentless pursuit of a wholly distinctive and most-flattering fit.
“For me, fashion is the body,” said Alaïa. “I make clothes; women make fashion.”
Alaïa is credited with inventing the supermodel through his exclusive fashion shows, the body-con dress — which, quite literally, hugs the body and emphasizes and embraces every curve — and pioneering what industry professionals have taken to calling “slow fashion.” The designer openly rejected empty, of-the-moment fads as well as the structure of biannual seasons and instead took his time, unhurried by press and releasing collections at his own pace. Most importantly, Alaïa was a visionary when it came to traditional notions of femininity and sexuality. At a time when loose, soft silhouettes were the norm, Alaïa’s sexy, waist-cinching hourglass and body-con outfits were shocking.
Alaïa’s “body-conscious clothes,” wrote fashion critic Suzy Menkes, “seemed a deliberate challenge — throwing down a sexist gauntlet in a feminist world.”
While powerful women such as Madonna, Michelle Obama, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington wear Alaïa’s creations today, his origins were remarkably humble.
Born to a farming family, Alaïa always had a creative streak. As a young boy, he would flip through women’s fashion magazines and quickly became interested in the design of women's clothing. He went on to study sculpture at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis and later worked as a tailor for a dressmaker before he found work creating garments based on Parisian haute couture designs. The combination of his classical training in sculpture and practical experience as a tailor convinced Alaïa that fashion was his calling. In 1957, he moved to Paris and worked for Christian Dior for less than a week before being fired. From there, Alaïa secured a job with Guy Laroche and opened his own maison in the 1970s.
At his core, Alaïa was a couturier who cut and sewed his samples himself. He also experimented with zips, seams, unexpected materials, textures, animal prints and floral patterns like an artist. Today, Alaïa’s clothes look untouched by the passage of time and the various trends that have materialized since their debut; they are as fresh, stylish and stunning as ever. His garments are pop-culture icons in their own right: Cher Horowitz, played by Alicia Silverstone in 1995’s Clueless, exasperated with a perpetrator holding her at gunpoint, declares, “But this is an Alaïa!”
Vintage Alaïa evening dresses, skirts and other attire continue to influence contemporary designers such as Nicolas Ghesquière and Hervé Léger. Not only are his clothes timeless in their glamour, but they also represent the groundbreaking vision of an artist, one who was known to proclaim, “I am not a designer. I am a couturier.”
- ShippingRetrieving quote...Ships From: London, United Kingdom
- Return PolicyThis item cannot be returned.
- Gianni Versace cheetah print faux fur jacket and dress ensemble, c. 1990sBy Gianni VersaceLocated in London, GBA Gianni Versace jacket and dress ensemble from the 1990s made for the 'Versus' line. The swing jacket is double breasted and fastens with th...Category
1990s Italian Day Dresses
- Vivienne Westwood red striped cotton jersey dress, ss 1989By Vivienne WestwoodLocated in London, GBVivienne Westwood red striped cotton jersey dress with printed baroque metallic gold picture frame. Civilizade, Spring-Summer 1989Category
1980s British Day Dresses
- Prada by Miuccia Prada brown silk chiffon slip dress, fw 1996By Miuccia Prada, PradaLocated in London, GB▪ Rare Prada evening slip dress ▪ Designed by Miuccia Prada ▪ Fine silk chiffon with geometric print in brown, mauve and cream ▪ Sold with a matching Prada nude silk slip dress to...Category
1990s Italian Evening Dresses and Gowns
- Jean Paul Gaultier burgundy nylon puffer coat with large faux fur hood, fw 1995By Jean Paul GaultierLocated in London, GB▪ Jean Paul Gaultier burgundy nylon puffer coat dress ▪ Oversized pointed hood with faux fur trim ▪ Metal zipper at the center front opening ▪ Two front pockets ▪ Elasticated cuffs...Category
1990s Italian Coats and Outerwear
- Comme des Garcons Homme Plus brown wool knitted v-neck sweater dress, A / W 1995By Comme des GarçonsLocated in London, GBAutumn-Winter 1995Category
1990s Japanese Day Dresses
- Dolce & Gabbana tan suede patchwork mini shirt dress, ss 2001By Dolce & GabbanaLocated in London, GBDolce & Gabbana tan suede patchwork mini shirt dress with tassel buttons Spring-Summer 2001Category
Early 2000s Italian Day Dresses
- Azzedine Alaia black white polka dot sleeveless flare babydoll mini dress FR 36By Azzedine AlaïaLocated in Paris, FRAzzedine Alaia sleeveless flared dress in black with white polka dot print Fitted upper which extends into a flared full skirt Concealed back zip Size: FR 36 with plenty of stretch...Category
2010s Italian Cocktail Dresses
- Christian Dior Resort 2018 brown cream floral print corset bustier midi dressBy Christian DiorLocated in Paris, FRChristian Dior Resort 2018 Cream midi length dress with brown floral print Boned corset upper with underwire cups Button up front which is f...Category
2010s French Evening Dresses
- 1960s Sarmi Flower and Stripe Print Dress in White, Blue, Navy, Orange and GreenBy SarmiLocated in San Francisco, CAVintage Sarmi 1960's sweet short dress in a retro floral and stripe print. Slightly puffed sleeves with three coordinated cloth covered buttons at each cuff. Orange belt...Category
1960s American Casual Dresses
- Oscar de la Renta Spring 2020 Multicolor Stripe Print Cotton Sun DressBy Oscar De La RentaLocated in San Francisco, CAOscar de la Renta multicolor stripe cotton sundress from the Spring 2020 collection. Wide stripes of pink, blue, white, yellow, brown, ochre and orange create a fun summery look. Hidden side pockets. Back zip. 97% cotton, 3% spandex. Unlined. Made in Italy. Size 2. See measurements. Bust (underarm to underarm) 32". Waist 27". Hip open. Length (shoulder to hem) 44.5". Very good condition, gentle wear with no notable flaws. We re-tacked the garment label on one side. Dress was originally sold with a skinny yellow belt...Category
2010s American Casual Dresses
- Sarmi Safari Animal Print Tan Maxi Shirt Dress, 1960sBy Sarmi, Ferdinando SarmiLocated in San Francisco, CAVintage tan maxi length shirt dress by Ferdinando Sarmi New York with all over safari print, featuring elephants, rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, and more. Includes narrow belt in same ...Category
1960s American Maxi Dresses
- Oscar de la Renta 2007 Runway Look Brown Ruffle Trim Sun DressBy Oscar De La RentaLocated in San Francisco, CAOscar de la Renta brown pencil dress with raw edged ruffle trim. Grosgrain trim circles the bodice. Boned at bodice for shape. Back zip and hook and eye. Seen in another color in L...Category
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Casual Dresses
Recently ViewedView All
Azzedine Alaïa Was a Couturier Who Thought Like a Sculptor
The first fashion exhibit to be held at the new London Design Museum celebrates the famed Tunisian-Parisian couturier's lifetime of work.
This Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Ensemble Is Part Zsa Zsa Gabor, Part ‘Blade Runner’
As Burton steps away from the brand, it’s a fitting time to revisit one of her visionary designs.