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Exclusive: Carla Sozzani on the art that makes an Azzedine Alaïa piece

The power of couture
"The craft of each piece, requires tremendous fidelity to detail to fully realise it," says Carla Sozzani, a dear and close friend of Azzedine Alaïa and advisor for the luxury brand. In a rare interivew, she speaks exclusively to Buro. Middle East about the Association Azzedine Alaïa exhibitions and how the Alaïa woman is both of today and a timeless style siren...

How did you start working on the exhibition?

This exhibition, as all the Association Azzedine Alaïa exhibitions, is about showcasing aspects of Alaïa’s point of view on his own work, and items from his personal collections. Mr. Alaïa enjoyed collecting in many fields, including art, music, scupture, architecture, design and fashion.

Who is the Alaïa woman today? 

Mr. Alaïa’s woman is both of today, and timeless.  She is beautiful because at her heart she is free.

Tell us about some of the brand’s highlights…

Azzedine Alaïa was always exploring new materials and methods, a vision that the Maison still explores.  Sculpture of shapes and precision in every detail has always been a hgihlight of the brand and continues to be so..

How would you describe L’Association Azzedine Alaïa today?

The Association was founded in 2007 by Azzedine Alaïa, his lifetime partner Christoph von Wehye and myself.  It was a strong will of Azzedine’s to build a museum where all his collections – his own work and all the works he had collected of great masters of art, design, and fashion – could be shown together to continue the ongoing aesthetic dialogue of ideas he had encouraged in his life, to be shared with new generations.

How did The Art of Tailoring take shape?

Mr Alaïa collected over 200  tailoring suits by Gilbert Adrian, a couturier he highly respected . Adrian made coats and suits for Greta Garbo, and so did Azzedine. As a first exhibition showing Mr Alaïa as a collector, Adrian seems the obvious one. Two couturiers, two A.

What are the Alaïa values?

As he himself once said, “Fashion will last forever. It will exist always, it will exist in its own way in each era.  It’s interesting to know the past, but you have to live in the present moment”. Timeless beauty.

What about your system and links between Art and fashion?

Art always informs fashion.  Both are grounded in beauty and that has always remained stable – underlying all changes in the moment.

How do you view the impact of social media on fashion and beauty?

As Azzedine observed, fashion will always be with us, and beauty is timeless, so everything depends on who is speaking, and how we choose to listen to understand the impact properly.

If you could describe Alaïa in a few words, what would they be? 

Above fashion, beyond fashion, iconic.

How is the Alaïa company doing at the moment and how do you see the brand in the future? 

The heritage and the legacy of Alaïa’s work will continue to propel the brand where he positioned it: unique and timeless.

 Can you talk about your design process for the F/W 2020 collection?

The collection is assembled by the studio and the ateliers from the Alaïa archives in a collective collaborative process.  It is a team work.

How do you work between Paris and Milan?

Mind here, body there – body here, mind there.

What is the story behind the exhibition?

It shows the respect Mr Alaïa as a collector had for other figures working in fashion. The opportunity to see these two master talents as tailors side by side is at the heart of the exhibition.

How have you adapted to working within such a high-profile brand?

For 40 years, we were the best of friends.  We never thought of what we did together as working and I try to still be in that attitude, with him always in my thoughts.   

What are your views on the Middle Eastern market?

Azzedine loved beauty and the women there are so beautiful, he loved to dress them.

And finally, tell us more about Alaïa Haute Couture? 

Azzedine used to say “I am not a designer, I am a couturier”.  The craft of the making, the precision of each piece, requires tremendous fidelity to each detail to fully realise it. It is this art in fashion that is the real foundation of Maison Alaia.

Now, from one legend to another, find out more on the upcoming unconventional biography on Karl Lagerfeld.