Tonight the Fashion Awards 2017 hosted by the British Fashion Council in London’s Royal Albert Hall honored the late Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaïa. The posthumous award was announced and received by Alaïa’s nearest and dearest supporters and professional loyalists. His honorary daughter Naomi Campbell, Alaïa’s 80s muse Linda Spierings, and his long-term friend and Vogue Arabia cover star, Farida Khelfa took to the stage to collect the award in a tour de force alongside eleven other iconic women, including Veronica Webb, Stephanie Seymour, Yasmin Le Bon, Vogue Arabia cover girl Imaan Hammam and Co.
The applauding audience included Rita Ora, Vogue Arabia cover girl Jourdan Dunn, Kaia Gerber, Donatella Versace, and Lewis Hamilton. “Beyond his work as a designer, from the second day I met him, he became my papa,” Campbell (wearing a creation from the designer’s Fall 2017 Couture collection) said in her touching speech.
“He was the most generous, kind, compassionate and humble man I have ever known, with a mischievous sense of humor in the glint of his eye, and he filled my life – and the lives of the women on this stage, and all of you in the room who met him – with light and joy,” added Campbell. “I moved into his home at 16 and he opened my eyes to the world: to artists, art and design, architecture, French and Tunisian culture. How blessed was I to have papa show me these different worlds?”
The BFAs, which officially launched in 1989, have announced only two posthumous awards in its time. The Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design in 2010 was accredited to four-times winner Lee Alexander McQueen who passed away earlier that year. Jane Muir and Isabella Blow have been remembered at the ceremony. But tonight was the evening to celebrate the groundbreaking works of Azzedine Alaïa.
There couldn’t have been a more apt line-up stepping up to represent the Tunisian designer who single-handedly raised the bar in Haute Couture and shone a light on the talents springing from North Africa and the Middle East. Campbell lived with Alaïa when she first moved to Paris aged 16 at the start of her modelling career. The two enjoyed an enduring father-daughter relationship, constantly in support of each other’s causes and celebrating each other’s talents: be it on the red carpet, in interviews, or quietly in each other’s lives.
Khelfa, who worked with the designer in his atelier and was a key muse for Alaïa (Jean-Paul Goude’s collage of the duo springs to mind), was amongst the supermodel on stage to accept the award. The Vogue Arabia October issue cover star gave a sneak preview on Instagram of what she would be wear at the BFAs. To little or no surprise, it’s an Alaïa.
Alaïa’s creations are stocked widely across London’s glossy quarters, including Dover Street Market and Harvey Nichols. The late designer’s flagship store was set to open on 139 New Bond Street in 2018 and serves as a testament to his confidence expanding further into his business model. WWD reported in May 2018 that the three-storey London Alaïa store was allegedly 6,000 square metres and cost US $1,924 per metre. Nestled amongst its contemporaries, the store would be the brand’s third global boutique, the other two being in Paris. The couture house is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont and the opening is still pending formal confirmation since the news broke of his death.
Prior to his passing, Vogue Arabia’s very own Features Director, Caterina Minthe, spent days with the design maestro at 7 rue de Moussy, the Paris address where Alaïa lived and worked. Minthe had an exclusive and trusted insight into the way the couturier lived, worked, and approached live in fashion’s fast lane. Here Minthe notes the occasion when Grace Jones carried the Tunisian-born designer during an awards ceremony, “The couturier reveled in his mischievous humor and had the Jamaican singer carry him in her arms onstage to collect his awards for Best Designer and Collection of the Year at the French Ministry of Culture’s Oscars de la Mode in 1984.”
The Alaïa sisterhood certainly showed up in full force at the British Fashion Awards 2017 to pay tribute to one of the world-leading designer and great friend to fashion’s leading icons. See the full list winners from the Fashion Awards 2017.
From London with love.