RIP Azzedine Alaïa

Azzedine Alaïa has died in Paris at the age of 82, the French Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion announced today. It’s thought the maverick couturier died suddenly from heart failure.

The Tunisian-born King of Cling, as he was known for his sculpted body-con designs, was one of the last remaining titans of the industry, diminutive though he was in stature. Over decades, he was sought after by a range of luminaries, from Grace Jones, Madonna, and Lady Gaga to Greta Garbo, Raquel Welch, and Michelle Obama. He was close friends with supermodels such as Stephanie Seymour, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Naomi Campbell, who called him Papa and lived with him when she was a teenager.

Alaïa started out as a tailor for Christian Dior, followed by Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler, before setting up his own firm in the late 70s. From beginning to end, he resisted the fashion industrial complex, avoiding Fashion Week altogether, instead holding intimate presentations in his Paris headquarters. He reportedly turned down the job at Dior, made vacant upon John Galliano’s departure, preferring to focus on his own house and remain independent. 

Azzedine Alaïa and Farida Khelfa, photo Jean-Paul Goude, 1985

Madonna and Azzedine Alaïa, photo Steven Meisel, Vogue Italia, 1989

Azzedine Alaïa and Yasmeen Ghauri, photo Patrick Demarchelier, Vogue Italia, 1991

Azzedine Alaia and Elle McPherson, photo Gilles Bensimon, 1986

Azzedine Alaïa and Naomi Campbell, photo Gilles Bensimon, 1987

Azzedine Alaïa, photo Jean-Francois Rault, 1985