“But this is an Alaïa!” ~ Cher Horowitz

This is the scene from Clueless-Cher, wearing Alaïa; photo courtesy of Paramount

The first time I heard the name of famed fashion designer, Azzedine Alaïa, was in a movie.  I remember it well – the year was 1995, and I was sitting in a theater in Greenwich Village – watching a funny and charming movie called, Clueless. In one scene, Cher, was being held up at gunpoint in the seedier part of LA and asked to lay on the asphalt. Protested Cher, “But, this is an Alaïa,” and she began to cry. “He’s like a totally famous designer.”

Azzedine Alaïa was a famous, uncompromising designer – known for his sculpture and silhouettes, molding his dresses to women’s forms – but he was equally famous for his rejection of the fashion system and his insistence on going his own way. Last Saturday, Azzedine Alaïa passed away at 82.

Alaïa held intimate shows in his Paris headquarters off-schedule that had nothing to do with designated fashion weeks or with following what the press and retailers demanded. He rejected the official calendar, preferring to reveal his clothing as he deemed it ready. Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, says Alaïa “dedicated his life to the belief that fashion was more than just garments; to him, they were as much an element in the empowerment of women and of a broader cultural conversation … He used leather and knits to shape and support the body, transforming it into the best version of itself. He eschewed external decoration for internal integrity, weaving pattern and adornment into the weft of the garment itself in ways that were almost undetectable to the outside eye.” Continue reading

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Cristobal Balenciaga

Cristobal Balanciaga - copyright Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet/The Image Works

Cristobal Balanciaga’s Paris Portrait – 1927 – copyright Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet/The Image Works

Isn’t that a beautiful name? Doesn’t it just ooze glamour and roll off your tongue? I never knew much about him except that there was a beautiful handbag designed by Balenciaga introduced a few years ago. Mary Blume (a native New Yorker who lives in Paris) has written a book that brings his story to life: The Master of us All, Balenciaga: His Workrooms, His World. After reading the book I am touched to see how someone so intensely private could become so successful and revered; it reminds me of the power of genius. Allow me to share with you some facts about Cristobal Balenciaga:

– he was very private and he avoided photos of himself, he never gave an interview in his years as a designer, he never took a bow at the end of a collection, and he remained a mystery throughout this life Continue reading

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