Never heard of the guy? Okay, let’s try this: Remember in Clueless when Cher gets robbed at gunpoint and refuses to drop to the ground because she doesn’t want to soil her dress? “This is an Alaia,” she whines. “…It’s like a totally important designer.”
Now he rings a bell, right?
Fashion snobs love Alaïa because he’s a resolute maverick. He makes beautiful, elaborate clothes that pay little heed to prevailing trends. He doesn’t bother maintaining the absurd pace of the fashion world, which forces designers to vomit up a new line every season even if they’re flat out of ideas. And, unlike the big fashion houses, he doesn’t produce hideous perfume just to make an extra buck. He’s also the rare, plucky soul willing to blast Anna Wintour for bad taste. (In public, anyway.)
We love Alaïa because his stuff is unapologetically glam. He’s an expert at handling difficult materials, like animal skin and chiffon (sometimes in the same dress). Additionally, he has the singular ability to create pink ruffled jackets that don’t look like they belong on Toddlers & Tiaras. Azzedine Alaϊa in the 21st Century displays garments from the past 10 years and runs through May 6. We’ve selected some of our favorites in the slideshow above. Take a few minutes to peruse it. You’ll be like totally glad you did.
[Images via the Groninger Museum]