PARIS: A shared retrospective on Azzedine Alaia and Cristobal Balenciaga, a designer whom the late Tunisian couturier admired, opened in Paris on Jan. 21 and will run until June 28. The six-month long exhibition, entitled “Sculptors of Shapes,” is the second parallel retrospective curated by Association Azzedine Alaia, following the success of last year’s “Adrian and Alaia: The Art of Tailoring.”
Held under the direction of Olivier Saillard — who curated “Azzedine Alaïa: Je suis couturier” and “Adrian and Alaia: The Art of Tailoring”— the new exhibition features 56 garments designed over the course of their respective careers in an effort to spotlight the similarities in the couturier’s tailoring, choice of fabrics and cuts.
It is the first time the two couturier’s designs are showcased alongside each other. The striking designs are presented in a white labyrinth of white mesh panels that was designed by American multimedia artist Kris Ruhs.
According to Carla Sozzani, a close friend of the late Tunisian couturier and the president of Association Alaia, it was one of Balenciaga’s protégés, Hubert de Givenchy (who died in 2018) who proposed the idea of a duet show on a visit to Alaia’s Marais studio.
Alaia was an avid collector of the Spanish designer’s work. It is said that the late couturier had collected over 400 pieces from Balenciaga over the years, including garments, furniture and art.
It was almost by chance that the late Tunisian couturier began collecting Balenciaga’s work. Shortly after the Spaniard shuttered his eponymous fashion house in 1968, Alaia was contacted by the deputy director of Balenciaga at the time to take the liberty of cutting new models from the dresses stored in the defunct workshop. However, a young Alaia chose to keep them intact and thus began building up an archive that would mark the beginning of a great collection.
The exhibition comes over two years after the passing of the late couturier, who died of heart failure in November 2017 in Paris.
The Association Azzedine Alaia, which was founded by Alaia, Carla Sozzani and Christoph Von Weyhe in 2007, hopes to organize three exhibitions a year featuring Alaia’s work and his extensive collection of fashion, furniture and photography.