Photograph by ARNOL for Getty Images.

“God Created the Woman, and Azzedine Dressed Her”: Remembering Alaïa

Mary Katrantzou, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, and others remember the iconoclastic designer.

by GARAGE Magazine
Nov 20 2017, 7:48pm

Photograph by ARNOL for Getty Images.

Over the weekend, the fashion industry mourned the loss of Azzedine Alaïa, one of the industry's most ferociously independent designers: the so-called "King of Cling," whose laser-cut masterpieces celebrated the female form, affirming the elegance and sensuality of precision. He was a champion of diversity on the runway, and an iconoclast within the fashion industry, insisting that the seasons moved too quickly and demanded too much from its creative minds. "I don't think really new ideas can come out every two months. It's not possible," he told Women's Wear Daily last year. "We don't have good ideas every day, it's not possible. Nobody has new ideas every day. When you have one in the year, that's already good." He was also a celebrated host and devoted friend to many, a handful of whom sent remembrances of him to GARAGE via email and Instagram, below.

"God created the woman, and Azzedine dressed her.“ —Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert

"Fashion lost its master conductor: Monsieur Alaïa, a maestro who created much more than clothes. He created a second skin for women to feel empowered in. I always found comfort in a uniform of Alaïa, a uniform that would protect and empower. I met him when I first started, in Paris, and couldn't help but ask for his words of wisdom. He told me to remain true to who I am and what I stand for, and his words always remained with me. He was a true visionary who always had the strength of his own convictions, and was uncompromising every step of the way. We all bow down to his magic and the great gift that is his legacy.“ —Mary Katrantzou

"A legend in his own right. A master of cut, craftsmanship and form. Alaia redefined the meaning of designer. He was an artist and sculptor who worked in fabric and skins. Fashion just got less sexy. We will all miss A.A." —Colby Jordan

“Everything was so deeply personal for him. It was all about the women, and he knew them by name, from the first ones [on] Rue de Bellechasse, of which he remembered the smallest anecdotes, to the pop stars that sometimes jammed his studio with flowers to thank for a dress. His clothes are powerful because they came from [his] admiration of the real, strong women around him.“ —Iracema Trevisan

"I sadly can't say I knew Mr. Alaïa well. I did however have the chance a few times in the last couple of years to meet him. One of those times was during Paris Fashion Week September 2016, sitting around his kitchen table like everyone had become accustomed to. He was quiet but always could get our attention with the slightest anecdotal story. His cats were his children, and I will never forget that night when he told us that he would wrap towels over his head as a turban at night to go to sleep. The cats had developed a habit of sleeping on top of his pillow, and as they were aging, bowel concerns developed... This was his clever solution to having them all still sleeping on top of his head, while not having to worry. He was very proud of it—always with that same sense of humor.“ —Laura de Gunzburg

“I loved him! He was very curious about people and loved meeting new people, especially anyone young. And everyone loved him!.... He took care of people! Home-cooked meals in his kitchen, always a huge entourage. He was very, very different to most designers I have met and the fashion world at large. A gentle but funny private man with a huge heart and lots of wit, who remembered everyone. When I was brought to one of his dinners in Paris via a friend, there was a soccer match on, where Germany was winning—maybe the World Cup even? France was up in arms because of that, and my friend told everyone arrived that I was German! Everyone eyed me suspiciously—the only one who made a point out of telling me he was happy for Germany to win was Azzedine!

"Another thing I remember was one New Year's in Kenya when we came over to Flavio Briatore's house to go out on his boat with Naomi [Campbell], whom he was going out with at the time. My sister and I decided to stay the night. Of course we had nothing to wear other than our bikinis and sarongs, and Naomi sweetly offered to lend us dresses and makeup from her endless wardrobe. I remember being so blown away by all her Alaïa and those amazing laser-cut corset belts—I couldn't even move!“ —Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis

And a few of our favorite tributes on Instagram and Twitter:

mary katrantzou
Azzedine Alaia
giovanna battaglia