New retrospective pays tribute to Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaia

The works of both the couturier and the costumer Gilbert Adrian are the focus of an exhibition launching in Paris this week

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 10, 2015 shows Tunisian-born, Paris-based couturier Azzedine Alaia posing during the press preview of the exhibition " Azzedine Alaia's soft sculpture" at the Galleria Borghese in Rome. 
Alaia died at age 77 according to the French Haute Couture Federation, AFP reports on November 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Gabriel BOUYS
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He helped shape the fashion landscape of the late 20th century with his architectural, form-fitting designs, and his work has gone on to inspire further generations of creatives. And now Azzedine Alaia, the late French-Tunisian couturier, is a key focus of a new joint exhibition, launching in Paris this week.

Pieces from the designer, who passed away November 2017 at the age of 77, will be displayed at 18 Rue de la Verrerie from January 21 as part of a six-month retrospective. The work of Alaia will be profiled alongside that of Gilbert Adrian, the American costume designer renowned for his work on films such as The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Anna Karenina (1935).

Adrian and Alaia: The Art of Tailoring will run at the Parisian venue until June, and highlight the designers' masterful use of techniques in their creation of one key piece – the jacket. The exhibition, part of the first parallel retrospective curated by the Association Azzedine Alaia, will also focus on the Tunisian couturier's passion, which was collecting works of fashion, art, design.

Alaia was a noted fan of Adrian, and gathered “over the years the most extensive collection of Adrian’s suits,” according to the Association Azzedine Alaia. The exhibition has been crafted under the direction of French curator and historian Olivier Saillard, who has also staged retrospectives for maisons such as Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga.

As one of Hollywood's most esteemed designers, Adrian, who was born in Connecticut in 1903 and died in 1959, was acclaimed for his use of suiting throughout his career. Working with stars such as Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, the costumer helped pioneer the broad-shouldered two-pieces of the 30s and 40s – though he is most often remembered for crafting Judy Garland's red sequinned slippers in the Wizard of Oz.

Alaia was born in 1940, during Adrian’s high-fashion heyday, and worked at Christian Dior, Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler before establishing his eponymous label in the 1970s. Championed by stars such as Grace Jones, Madonna and Naomi Campbell, his slinky dresses won him the nickname King of Cling in the 1980s, though he largely retired from the public eye in the 1990s, appearing sporadically with new collections up until his death.


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