Dear Shaded Viewers,
Renowned designer Azzedine Alaïa, widely hailed as an icon in the fashion world, not only left an indelible mark on the industry through his innovative creations but also curated an astonishing collection of 20,000 fashion artifacts, spanning from the inception of haute couture in the late 19th century to the masterpieces crafted by his contemporaries. This extraordinary assemblage stands as a testament to Alaïa’s profound reverence for the art of fashion.
Alaïa’s dedication to preserving these exquisite garments was not merely a passive pursuit, but a vibrant extension of his ethos. In his own words, he expressed, “For many years now, I’ve been acquiring dresses, coats, and jackets that embody the glorious history of fashion. It has become an integral part of my identity, a resolute commitment to safeguard them, a symbolic show of solidarity with those who, before me, reveled in the pleasures and challenges of the cutting shears. This endeavor is my personal homage to the craftsmanship and visionary ideas encapsulated within these garments.”
A decade ago, Palais Galliera paid homage to Azzedine Alaïa through a momentous retrospective, and now, the spotlight once again illuminates his unparalleled heritage collection. Alaïa embarked on his collecting journey in 1968, with the acquisition of select pieces after the closure of Cristobal Balenciaga’s illustrious fashion house. Over time, he emerged as the world’s foremost custodian of couture masterpieces, curating an extraordinary array from illustrious designers such as Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Madame Grès, Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel, Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior. Moreover, the collection also encompasses contemporary creations by visionaries like Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, and Yohji Yamamoto, offering a captivating juxtaposition of past and present.
The much-anticipated exhibition, slated to grace the halls of Palais Galliera from September 27 to January 21, 2024, unveils a curated selection of 140 extraordinary pieces, meticulously chosen to trace the captivating narrative of this private collection, which, until now, has remained shrouded in utmost secrecy. Visitors will embark on a mesmerising journey through time, witnessing the evolution of fashion and bearing witness to the sartorial craftsmanship of generations past.
To culminate their tour, visitors are beckoned to venture across to the Salle Matisse in the MAM, located opposite the Palais Galliera. There, they will encounter three stage costumes meticulously designed by the illustrious Henri Matisse for the esteemed Ballets Russes in 1919. These enchanting creations epitomise the harmonious dialogue between fashion and art, a concept deeply cherished by Azzedine Alaïa.
Curated under the guidance of esteemed individuals, the exhibition owes its magnificence to the collaborative efforts of Miren Arzalluz, director of the Palais Galliera, and Olivier Saillard, director of the Fondation Azzedine Alaïa, with the invaluable assistance of Alice Freudiger. Their collective expertise and discerning eye ensure that this exhibition will be an immersive and transformative experience, paying homage to the enduring legacy of Azzedine Alaïa while celebrating the rich tapestry of fashion history.