Just How Much of a Perfectionist Is Azzedine Alaïa?

If you already knew Azzedine Alaïa is an exacting fellow, a couturier’s couturier, you don’t know the half of it. Here, excerpts from an extract from an interview with Mark Wilson, curator of the Azzedine Alaïa exhibit at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, that appears in the new issue of Disegno magazine…

“When someone is starting out, they are often forced to do everything themselves. But Alaïa still does, 40 years later. He controls everything. He draws the patterns, he cuts the patterns, he drapes the clothes. He’s really one of the last great working couturiers, without a question. He usually works until the early hours of the morning because that’s a quiet time for him. At times I’ve stayed up with him until four o’clock.”

“He always starts by draping fabric over the body of the mannequin, sculpting it to fit. Then he makes the patterns. But he is always perfecting them, redoing, remaking, refitting constantly. And that’s why I think his work is so great: because he doesn’t release anything because he needs to release it; he releases it when he’s ready to release it. You don’t see any mistakes with him.”

“I don’t speak any French, and he speaks no English, but that doesn’t matter – it’s a visual thing, creating the exhibition and the whole process of making the selection. There will be between 60 and 65 outifts on show, depending on how many he gets finished, all of them from the past 10 years.”

“Alaïa personally finds the pieces we have selected in his archive. He’s kept almost everything, and if he doesn’t have the pieces he still has the patterns. When we’d made our selection of what to show and started to edit it down, the garments would suddenly disappear. Then we found out why: he was remaking them from scratch or recutting them to fit the mannequins exactly. That’s how he is: if he wasn’t satisfied with how they fitted on the mannequin, he would recut them or remake the pieces completely.”

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