Iconic fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa passed away last Saturday, November 18th in Paris. His decades-long career was built upon an uncompromising dedication to the female form and the belief that fashion can function as an element of women’s empowerment. Unlike many of today’s designers who double as celebrities, Alaïa was a relatively private figure. He also remained unfazed by fashion’s rigorous show schedule—one that sees designers such as Karl Lagerfeld designing eight collections a year for Chanel alone—and preferred to unveil collections when he deemed them ready. His work was timeless, never conforming to trends and instead, were exercises in transforming the female figure. His body-con garments in unexpected materials such as knits and leather, painstakingly engineered to hug the form, earned him the moniker “king of cling.” In honor of Alaïa, we’ve taken a look back at some of his best moments, on and off the runway.
A champion of black models before they were readily embraced by fashion and entertainment, Alaïa designed this dress for Grace Jones to wear in the 1985 James Bond film “A View to Kill.”
This Alaïa creation (photographed here on Elle MacPherson by Gilles Bensimon) is made of removable pieces that allow it to transform from a gown to a one-shouldered dress to a bathing suit and back.
Alaïa was one of Naomi Campbell’s biggest mentors. The pair began working together during the very beginnings of her career in the 90s and became close friends—Campbell called the designer Papa. Here, Campbell walks the runway for Alaïa’s fall 1991 collection.
“You don’t understand, this is an Alaïa!” Cher Horowitz whines in 1995 flick “Clueless.” Reluctantly, she drops to the ground as her mugger runs away. We have Azzedine to thank for the red dress central to this classic scene.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, arguably one of the White House’s best-dressed, wore this deep teal set to the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in 2014.