“does fashion still make our hearts skip a beat? because I’m about to shed a few tears at this exhibition”, I texted li furtado, CINCO’s founder, creative director and a dear friend of mine, on the morning of the 22nd. it was not my first visit to azzedine alaïa’s foundation at the number 18 of rue de la verrerie in paris but this time I was there to check the exhibition: ALAÏA/GRÈS: BEYOND FASHION.
it’s unclear if the two have ever met, but their creations undeniable have a lot in common. alaïa, le dernier grand couturier, as many would call him, was not only a true connoisseur of a woman’s body but an advocate for freedom. he was one of the first to voice his concerns over the constricting fashion calendar and would only show his collections at his own pace. as he once said in an interview: “if I still like my old collection, why should I make a new one?”. simple, yet so in tune with the present momentum.
both alaïa (1940-2017) and grès (1903-1993) studied sculpture and would spend hours alone at their ateliers perfecting their craft. simplicity was key. apparent simplicity, one might add, as their creations hid an inherent complexity that could easily go unnoticed to the naked eye. complexity in cut and design. similarities between the two include not only the fabric-guided technique, the choice of fabrics - both loved silk jersey and velvet - but also their principles and unique vision of what dressmaking should be.
there was something quite magical in the way madame grès draped a dress. in her own words: “when I drape a mannequin in silk (jersey) for example, the fabric responds in my hands”. she would often describe herself as a being anything but a “good seamstress” (“a bonne couturière”). that was what haute couture meant to her, to excel in her craft. a vision shared by alaïa. he once stated that from all the words that could possibly describe what he did he believed couturier (“one who sews”) was the one that suited him the most.
I am definitely biased when it comes to azzedine alaïa. he has been my favorite couturier for as long as I can remember but it was a truly emotional experience being so close to his and madame grès creations. and yes, I did shed a tear… or two.
ALAÏA/GRÈS: BEYOND FASHION runs until april 7 at fondation azzedine alaïa.
Fondation Azzedine Alaïa
18 Rue de la Verrerie 75004 Paris
+33 (0)1 87 44 87 75
cátia santos reis "the world is yours but greece is mine” could be her mantra as cátia santos reis is yet to find a greek island she hasn’t fallen in love with. in the meantime, she keeps traveling the world. for CINCO editorial, the 34 year-old, will share her favorite things to do, visit and eat in every destination.
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