Widely admired designer Azzedine Alaïa has passed away in Paris at the age of 82 from a heart attack, news that was confirmed by the NY Times.
Affectionately referred to as the king of cling, Alaïa was widely praised for his signature sexy style, creating form-hugging designs elevated through gorgeous tailoring and details. Alaïa’s fans were fiercely loyal to him and included some of the world’s most fashionable women, such as Carine Roitfeld, Franca Sozzani, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell, whose relationship was close enough she referred to him as Papa.
While viewed as iconic, Alaïa was very much invested in the here and now, and once stated in an interview with style.com, “Fashion will last forever. It will exist always. It will exist in its own way in each era. I live in the moment. It’s interesting to know the old methods. But you have to live in the present moment. The evolution today is in the machinery. There are machines that did not exist before. It allows you to be a lot more of a perfectionist.”
Born in Tunisia to wheat famers, Alaïa found a porthole to a life in fashion through enrollment at École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis. In 1957 he moved to Paris, where he held positions at Christian Dior, Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler.
He opened an atelier in his Paris apartment in the late ’70s and showed his first collection in 1980. He signed a partnership with Prada in 2000, which help breathe new energy into his name, but ever the iconoclast, he purchased his name back in 2007. Richemont bought a majority stake in his business in the same year, but allowed him to grow the business at a pace of his own choosing.
Utterly uninterested in taking part in the fashion hamster wheel, Alaïa elected not to present regularly during fashion week presentations, choosing instead to show when the timing felt right. After taking a six year break from the runway, he held what was to be his final presentation during Paris haute couture week in July 2017, a show Campbell opened and closed.