Daily Style Phile: Azzedine Alaïa, Fashion Rebel

by Christina Makoyawo · June 24, 2011

When someone mentions Azzedine Alaïa, I think of the scene in Clueless when Cher gets mugged and doesn't want to ruin her gorgeous Alaïa dress because he is a "totally important designer". Lately, Alaïa's been all over fashion news for turning down Dior and slamming Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. How could you not like the rebel?



Born in Jemmal, Tunisia.

He is 71 years old.

Parents were wheat farmers.

Legendary couturier and shoe designer.

Considers Naomi Campbell like his own daughter.

Well known for being the fashion rebel; focusing more on product design and construction rather than business and clothing chains.


Legendary Career:

In a December 2010 New York Times interview, he was crowned "The Master of the Female Form" but his status has been longstanding since the early 80's. He started off within the fashion world in Paris, where he worked at Christian Dior, then Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler. After opening up his first atelier in the late 1970s, his career moved on upward.

His first self-produced RTW collection debuted in 1980 and he shot to fame thanks to Melka Tréanton of Depeche Mode and Nicole Crassat of French ELLE. They both showed great support for his collection, using it in their fashion editorials.

Due to factors of his personal life, there was a time when he faded out of the spotlight for some time. Then re-emerged under a Prada partnership and in 2007 brought his brand name and company out of the ashes.



Alaia has been known not to conform to "what the industry requires or expects from designers". In a time when virtually all fashion designers have boutiques as widespread and numourous as chain-restaurants, he's stayed away from the method. By standing his ground and remaining true to himself, regarding his own methods, he was still able to gain commercial success. He has stayed away from Fashion Week and only presents his collections to private clientele within his own Marais showroom.


Galliano & Wintour Snub:

The Financial Times broke the news that he was offered a chance to replace disgraced John Galliano at Dior. He reportedly turned down the position though. Financial Times fashion editor, Vanessa Friedman got to speak with Alaïa:

The story of what happened with John was a sad story, he said when I asked him, and he didn't want to be part of the next chapter.

An often outspoken critic when it comes to the fashion industry's assembly line-like pace of production, it's likely that he's seen his friend [Galliano] fall victim to the pressure and does not want the same fate for himself.

Another media gem floating around, has been his slight bashing of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour in a VirgineMag interview. While most members of the fashion world praise the Kaiser and fear the Vogue editrix, he obviously had no qualms expressing his true thoughts and he went all the way there.

I don't like his fashion, his spirit, his attitude. It's too much caricature. Karl Lagerfeld never touched a pair of scissors in his life... She runs the business (Vogue) very well, but not the fashion part. When I see how she is dressed, I don't believe in her tastes one second. I can say it loudly! She hasn't photographed my work in years even if I am a best seller in the U.S. and I have 140 square meters at Barneys.

American women love me; I don't need her support at all. Anna Wintour doesn't deal with pictures; she is just doing PR and business, and she scares everybody. But when she sees me, she is the scared one. [Laughs.] Other people think like me, but don't say it because they are afraid that Vogue won't photograph them. Anyway, who will remember Anna Wintour in the history of fashion? No one.

A fashion designer with balls? We like!