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Start Date 26 February 2023
End Date 20 August 2023
Venue Fondation Azzedine Alaïa
Location Paris, France
Curator Olivier Saillard

On 26 February, the day Azzedine Alaïa was born, the Foundation will unveil to the public for the first time a place that has been kept secret since the designer’s death on 18 November 2017: Azzedine Alaïa’s Studio.

This is undoubtedly the place most imbued with the memory of Monsieur Alaïa: every corner of this room tells of the couturier but also of the man he was.

Visitors will now be able to discover Azzedine Alaïa’s Studio through a window, and imagine the couturier at work, day or night, in his den, and also dream of fitting sessions with the most beautiful models in the world.

The unveiling of the Studio is also an opportunity to highlight the beautiful photographic work of Thomas Demand on Azzedine Alaïa’s patterns, that colourful geometry, the chrysalis of the designer’s sculptural dresses.

« I only make sketches as reminders of what I am working on. I trace a pattern on calque paper, I cut it out and I attach it with a pin to a sheet of paper. Then I begin working on a dressmaking mannequin, but I need someone for the fitting. Because a woman walks, her body moves, and I need to see how the fabric behaves on her ». Azzedine Alaïa

« A poetic Capernaum, where ideas are born and take shape, the atelier of Azzedine Alaïa, represents the heart within the body of the designer’s couture house and private apartments.

In this island of creation, located on the first floor, nestled between his fitting room and his private living quarters, the atelier distills the memories of the most beautiful Alaïa  collections.

Since 1987, it is here in the place familiarly known as his studio that the couturier invents, conceives, cuts and molds the dresses that constitute the timeless architectures of fashion.

It is here, in this forest of racks of clothes in the making, dresses awaiting completion, that Azzedine Alaïa would find sanctuary in the evenings and late into the night. When the last of his friends would leave the kitchen, another hub of vitality in which resides much of the spirit of the Alaïa house, he would go upstairs and come to sit down at his worktable.

In his uniform of midnight black, Alaïa would set out to work through to the dawn. One would see him pinning the form of a sleeve, then nervously removing those same pointed pieces of metal, and to those not trained in the techniques of cut and pattern drafting, Alaïa.would seem much like a construction foreman. Graduated rulers, some curved like the backs of birds, serve the purpose of adjusting measurements that had become for him automatic writing. On this table, veritable mirror of the couturier’s hands, a geography of the body evolves each night. Pieces of fabric soon to become replicas and reflections of the arms, busts and hips that they would shortly caress. Into the small hours, Oum Kalthoum accompanies Azzedine in his mission. She sings as tirelessly as he cuts. On the red brick wall, Alaïa need only lift his gaze to see lifelong friends, fairy godmothers and muses who accompanied and supported him in the development of his art. Arletty, Tina Turner, Naomi, Veronica Webb, Stephanie Seymour, Carla Sozzani, Michèle Obama, Shakira, Bruce Weber, Charles Baudelaire … photographs like fallen leaves of a secret tree. To his right, a giant television screen broadcasts the wildlife documentaries that Alaïa particularly loves to watch.

The following morning, the models can come back to him. In front of the large mirror surrounded by a gilt frame, fittings take place and corrections are applied. Alaïa pins together and takes apart on the sublime bodies jackets, coats, and evening dresses in various stages of completion yet no less sublime.

In this peculiar den where rolls of fabric muffle voices and footsteps, entire and notorious collections have been realized, eternal dresses have been born thanks to the great art of Alaïa, the last reigning couturier.

Already 5 years have passed since all here was brought to silence and covered with white dustsheets. Not a single garment, nor sketch, tool, pin, or needle has been touched.

It is now time to draw back these veils of discretion and reveal once more to the public, the atelier, fortress of ideas and imagination, of the couturier.

In a subtle scenography, the visitor will be able to perceive the spirit of this unique place where the laughter, joy and passion of an occupation and vocation seem to echo still.