The ultimate Hidden Gem, Azzedine Alaïa was one of the most confidential French couturiers whose work is acclaimed worldwide by connoisseurs of fashion history and fashionistas alike. A perfectionist and a couturier interested in all artistic dimensions, Monsieur Alaïa always had a passion for the 18th century court of Versailles, and especially the Marquise de Pompadour and her sumptuously refined style. But he probably never expected to be directly in touch with her historical presence: after purchasing an aristocratic building in 1987, the former Hôtel des évêques de Beauvais, he started organizing his fashion shows in what would become his home and workplace after long renovations. During the rebuilding period, his workers found ancient frescoes on the walls. Monsieur Alaïa was very intrigued and after further investigations, he discovered that a certain Jeanne Poisson had received her worldly education in this same mansion before becoming … Madame de Pompadour.
The fashion collection which resulted from this almost magical presence of the marquise is considered one of the best of the couturier. Indeed, Monsieur Alaïa’s connection to the 18th century and the sophistication of the Versailles court made him apply elements from this period to the 115 pieces of his 1992 summer collection. Shapes, even though he always used fitted lines, were even stronger, insinuating the idea of corsets and panniers. The embroidery he used was in “broderie anglaise” style, contrasting with his own modern lace and frills. He even included some elements from 18th century men’s wear such as the redingote and light coats. Ultimately, all dresses are characteristic of Azzedine Alaïa’s signature shape and yet there is a touch of classic 18th century style on each silhouette.
To see these details and to fully admire these highly feminine dresses, visitors now have access to the Hôtel which, after the couturier’s death, was transformed into an artistic foundation by his closest friends and partners. The exhibits about each unique collection are designed by Olivier Saillard, a curator and fashion expert who perfectly masters the art of visual storytelling and vibrant scenography. Entering Azzedine Alaïas “maison” is simply the perfect opportunity for his numerous admirers and all fashion fans to see how splendidly the couturier combined his artistic passions with a modern vision of femininity. And it is just quite possible that visitors to this couture fashion museum will also have a chance to experience the essence of the alchemy which made the fusion between a major historical figure, the Pompadour, and an iconic couturier, Monsieur Alaïa an impressive chapter in iconic Parisian fashion history.
Thank you to Jacqueline Sablayrolles for this beautiful article as originally published on GraceinParis.com