The Secret Alchemy reveals Alaïa’s most magical collection
When Azzedine Alaïa decided to purchase an ancient building in the Parisian Marais he was not aware that the treasures he found would be the inspiration behind one of his iconic collections.
Azzedine Alaïa was one of the most confidential French couturiers whose work was - and still is – acclaimed worldwide by connoisseurs and fashionistas. A perfectionist and a couturier interested in all artistic dimensions, Monsieur Alaïa always had a passion for the 18th century court of Versailles, and especially the Marquise de Pompadour and her sumptuously refined style. But he probably never expected to be directly in touch with her souvenirs: after purchasing in 1987 an aristocratic building, the former Hôtel des évêques de Beauvais, he first started organizing his fashion shows in what would become his home and workplace after long renovations. During that period, the workers found ancient frescoes on the walls. Monsieur Alaïa was very intrigued and after further investigating, he discovered that a certain Jeanne Poisson had received her worldly education in this same mansion before becoming … Madame de Pompadour.
The fashion collection which resulted from this almost magical presence of the marquise is considered one of the best of the couturier. Indeed, Monsieur Alaïa’s connection to the 18th century and the sophistication of the Versailles court made him apply elements from this period to the 115 pieces of his 1992 summer collection. Shapes, even though he always used fitted lines, were even stronger, insinuating the idea of corsets and panniers. The embroidery he used was in “broderie anglaise” style, contrasting with his own modern lace and frills. He even included some elements from 18th century men’s wear such as the redingote and light coats. Ultimately, all dresses are characteristic of Azzedine Alaïa’s signature shape and yet there is a touch of classic 18th century style on each silhouette.
To see these details and to fully admire these highly feminine dresses, visitors now have access to the Hôtel which, after the couturier’s death, was transformed into an artistic foundation by his closest friends and partners. The current exhibit about this unique collection was designed by Olivier Saillard, a curator and fashion expert who perfectly masters the art of visual storytelling and vibrant scenography. Entering Azzedine Alaïas “maison” is simply the perfect opportunity for his numerous admirers and all fashion fans to see how splendidly the couturier combined his artistic passions with a modern vision of femininity. And surely enough they will also become aware of the alchemy which made the fusion between a major historic figure, the Pompadour, and an iconic couturier, Monsieur Alaïa.