The obsession of Azzedine Alaïa’s life was “to make women beautiful.” Is the beauty of an Alaïa dress in the eye of the beholder? Though many Arab women consider his work to be the pinnacle of fashion, the outpouring of affection from the wider world since his passing proves that his brilliance crossed cultures and generations. It speaks to each of us and unspools emotions of awe and desire in those who lay eyes on his work.
In his Paris atelier, along with celebrities, Alaïa also entertained artists and philosophers. It is to the thinkers that we turn to understand his unique vision. Philosopher Denis Dutton argues that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Rather, he references Darwin to conclude that it is “a gift; handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors. Our powerful reaction to images, to the expression of emotion and art will be with us and our descendants as long as the human race exists.” Now, the maison Alaïa will soldier on without him. We hold in highest esteem, and without a thread of naiveté, the belief that his vision will continue forever.
People who find beauty in something done well will strive to learn from his legacy. The current exhibition in Paris, “Je suis couturier” – at his atelier until June – serves as a gateway for the future generation to “observe and learn from the work of a master,” states Carla Sozzani. Another exhibition dedicated to his oeuvre, at the Design Museum in London, will open in May. The curation of “Azzedine Alaïa: the couturier” was overseen by Monsieur Alaïa himself before his passing in Paris on November 18.
On these pages, our hero escapes to the whitewashed desert towns and arid valleys of the island of Djerba. It is but 500km from the master’s final resting place in Sidi Bou Said. Untethered, she leaps across dome rooftops whose stones are battered by salty Mediterranean waters. She searches through ruins. Behind her, the white mosque guards souls. That joyous, mischievous spirit of Azzedine Alaïa is not far. It is within her. From that moment when she embraces beauty until eternity and beyond, from that sunburnt soil, she will release the liberated life inside her. A new beginning starts now.
Photographer and Videographer: Julian Torres
Fashion Stylist: Sonia Bedere
Hair and Makeup: Sandrine Garcia
Model: Cindy Bruna at Metropolitan Models
Location: Hotel Radisson Blu Palace Resort & Thalasso, Djerba
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