“It’s about femininity and a sexuality that’s both rough and elegant at the same time,” star designer Pieter Mulier told Vogue about how he’s modernizing Alaïa for a new generation. Here, five things to know about his latest empowering collection.
It was intimate in every way
It’s all about intimacy at Alaïa. For his third show since taking the helm as creative director, Pieter Mulier opened the doors to what will become the maison’s new flagship store on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré and created a series of narrow runways that had guests up-close and personal with his looks. “Let’s put our phone down,” he wrote in his usual self-penned letter, placed on every seat, and while no one did, the sentiment was on-brand. So was the collection that unfolded: a tactile, body-conscious and consistently sensual demonstration of the codes of Azzedine Alaïa seen through the present-day kaleidoscope of Mulier.
It was shapewear 2.0
“It’s still about taking the codes of Azzedine and bringing them to a new generation. It’s about femininity and a sexuality that’s both rough and elegant at the same time,” Mulier said after a show defined by its tactile base layers: tight, soft, translucent cashmere body suits that created a foundation for almost everything else that fashioned his looks. “Sometimes clothes can be very restrictive, but these are literally like bodysuits. I told the knitwear team, I want something bodycon that’s not viscose, but is highly stretchy and comfortable.” The impact felt astutely relevant in a fashion world increasingly interested in the shapewear that was always a natural part of Alaïa’s expression. This, of course, was the superior answer to recent interpretations.
It featured an illustrious cast
“It’s about purity: silhouettes that are so simple,” Mulier said. “That’s why I opened with four silhouettes that looked so simple. They’re so sexy, but they’re covered three times. It’s three layers. She has a body, an underbody and a skirt.” The idea permeated the collection, even when volumes magnified in huge cocoonish overcoats, poncho-like scarf coats, and the biker jackets and cocktail dress hybrids that brought a certain ’80s sensibility to proceedings. It reached a climax when Linda Spierings – an Alaïa legend – walked the show to a spontaneous applause, followed by a cast that included Mariacarla Boscono and Doutzen Kroes with a perm.
Draping was key
When it came to the leather tied to Alaïa, Mulier expressed himself through draping inspired by the founder’s first show. “1984. I’m obsessed with the first show. Not many people know it. And it was basically draping with viscose – he invented that thread in Italy – and draping with leather. Many of these skirts come from him. It’s a perfect drape. I always wanted to drape, but I never draped in my previous jobs. I don’t want to say ‘goddess’, because I don’t like the word, but it’s really about empowering.”
Mulier gave us leg heels and ankle rings
In the shoe department, Mulier introduced a heel sculpted in the shape of a woman’s legs, which had audiences’ eyes peeled. “It’s a vintage shoe from Azzedine. In 1992, he did 12 pairs with the same heel. It’s quite famous. It’s black lacquered with a red sole. It never showed. It was for backstage. There are photos on Stephanie Seymour. We took it and made it into a heel for now.” The heel played tag with Yeti boots adorned with a big metal ring, which also appeared on the sleeves of coats. “It made me think of an astronaut when we developed it, but it didn’t come out like that,” Mulier smiled.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk