It is incredibly moving to return to Azzedine Alaïa‘s gallery again after he suddenly died eight months ago. The opening of Olivier Saillard‘s new exhibition devoted to the Summer 1992 show, was well attended by all the fashionistas who came to Paris for the Couture shows. And most star models who were part of the défilé were there. The building acquired by the designer in 1987, used to be where Madame de Pompadour lived as a small girl. Thus Alaïa dedicated his first collection of 115 pieces, designed on the spot, to Louis XV’s very sexy mistress.
Olivier Saillard, formerly Director of Palais Galliera, is now Artistic director of J.M. Weston shoes and has developed a new trendy line for the flagship store on 55 Champs Elysées. But he will keep curating exhibitions of Alaïa’s collections, rue de la Verrerie. The show includes 39 pieces, sexy dresses, striped cotton shirts and very short suits. They are all reminiscent of the couturier’s talent for cuts and frills.
The kindness and elegant manners of the Tunisian born designer are perpetrated in the house and while I was standing watching on a screen the famous 1992 défilé, a kind young man brought me an armchair. The rue de la Verrerie still serves as offices to the brand, which has just opened a shop in London on New Bond Street, and the cook is still around catering to the staff. Everyone was in the courtyard breathing some fresh air in the stifling Paris summer. It feels like the family is still there except that the boss is gone. An exhibition is taking place at the Design museum in London until October 10.
When he first arrived in Paris from Tunisia in the late fifties, the designer was soon introduced to chic salons and Louise de Vilmorin was one of his first fans. He worked briefly for Yves Saint Laurent at Christian Dior and developed a private clientele in his small atelier of rue de Bellechasse.
It is fun to watch the video of the show because all the greatest models of the time were there from Naomi Campbell to Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni and Farida Khelfa, his muse. So do not miss this show if you are in the Marais. It is next to Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, one of the hip department stores.
And an exhibition of photographs of the 1968 riots in Nanterre and in the Latin quarter by Gilles Caron, at Mairie de Paris across the street, will also bring back tender memories… The photographer tragically disappeared in Cambodia while covering the Khmer Rouge in 1970. Entrance is free.
Association Azzedine Alaïa, 18 rue de la Verrerie, entrance 5€.
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