THE GUARDIAN

AZZEDINE ALAÏA COULDN'T GIVE A DAMN WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAID WAS THE NEW MOOD

By Sophie Hicks. April 2018

Ahead of the first UK solo exhibition of the couturier’s work, former colleague Sophie Hicks remembers his exacting pursuit of fashion perfection.
I think the new Azzedine Alaïa exhibition at the Design Museum could have the same impact on fashion students that Sensation at the Royal Academy had on arts students in 1997. Azzedine, who died last November, isn’t particularly well known in England – he was very much Paris-based – so it should be a revelation for young people who haven’t seen his work.

I first became aware of Azzedine in 1981 or 82, when I was working as a fashion editor for British Vogue. We were tipped off about an interesting designer in Paris and a few of us from the magazine went to see his show. It was at his apartment in the 7th arrondissement and the catwalk was just the parquet floor with little chairs lined up on either side. I remember we were kept waiting a long time. Suddenly, there was this loud clap and the American model Janice Dickinson appeared, followed by 10 or 20 of the most beautiful women in the world.

We thought, who is this designer who can get these unbelievable models to walk through his apartment like this? New York was the centre of the fashion industry at the time and models of that calibre simply didn’t bother coming to Paris, but here they were, dressed up and looking incredible.

We were right up close so we could see the cut, the fabric, the attention to detail. We hadn’t really seen anything like it before. It was a completely new look, very tailored and fitted and very sexy – but sexy is not quite the right word. The outfits were incredibly empowering.

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