Raf Simons & Pieter Mulier in Dior and I. Courtesy of Dior and Netflix.

Belgian designer Pieter Mulier has been appointed as Creative Director of Maison Alaïa. Chief Executive Officer of Alaïa, Myriam Serrano announced the hire on Feb. 5th. The Richemont-owned luxury brand produces both ready-to-wear and haute couture lines. 

Alaïa began his couture work in 1965, eventually garnering the nickname “King of Cling” for his svelte, body-hugging gowns. Ready-to-wear (RTW) grew prominence in the small-scale couture atelier as it was developed to a luxury brand defined by full-knit construction gowns, lace-up platform boots, and laser-cut, leather tote bags.  In the early 1990s, Alaïa relocated his Paris showroom to a large, 19th century building on the Rue de Moussy. The designer lived and worked here until he passed away in 2017.

We were first introduced to Mulier in the 2014  documentary Dior and I -the Frédéric Tcheng film chronicling the design of  Dior’s FW 2012 Haute Couture presentation -Raf Simons’ first collection as creative director of womenswear. Mulier was revealed to us as the frank, dry right hand to Simons, serving as the middleman between Simons and his Dior ateliers. Mulier moved with Simons when he became the Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein, placing Mulier as Creative Director of the RTW line 205w39nyc and the bespoke, made to measure line Calvin Klein By Appointment. Mulier bowed with Simons at the 205W39NYC runway presentations whereas he was never a public figure at Simons’ previous positions with Jil Sander and Dior.

Mulier most definitely has the skill and experience from working alongside Raf Simons throughout his tenures at Jil Sander to DIOR all the way through Calvin Klein. Beyond his connection to Raf, it will be interesting to see exactly what Mulier brings to the table. Following an iconoclast such as Azzedine Alaïa will present certain challenges. Alaïa was known to present collections against the traditional schedule whilst concurrently bemoaning the apparent materialism and vanity of exalted fashion heavyweights such as Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Full couture collections were sometimes not presented to the press for years at a time, privately producing haute couture garments for his circle of devoted clientele. All the while the Alaïa prêt-à-porter collection seemed to sit at a steady simmer, churning out collections defined by the brand’s classic silhouettes which were more often than not presented as editorials as opposed to flashy Runway presentations.

Richemont, the parent company behind Maison Alaïa is also behind Alber Elbaz’s new line, AZ Factory, a conceptual collection driven by science and technology. Richemont has also just hired Gabriela Hearst as Creative Director of Chloé. The move to bring on Mulier marks another calculated move made by the conglomerate. We have seen many brands lose their namesake and continue on forward: Alexander McQueen, Mugler, YSL, but not yet in this world seemingly turned upside down. It will be lovely to see what tenets of the brand Mulier holds on to and what he does not. Mulier’s first collection will be presented in Fall 2021 for the Spring 2022 season.

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