WEAR AND TEAR: Azzedine Alaïa isn’t easing up on his anger over the Costume Institute exhibit “The Model as Muse” and the Monday night gala — but perhaps it’s misplaced. Alaïa is upset none of his designs were included in the exhibit and yanked seven dresses due to be worn to the gala by his longtime muses, including Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour and Linda Evangelista, none of whom showed. But Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, on Thursday explained to WWD why the exhibit featured no Alaïa garments. Cathy Horyn of The New York Times claimed in a blog item Monday that “[Alaïa] was not fully informed by the Met about the subject of the show, nor was he invited to attend the opening.” Koda noted to WWD that early on during the show’s conception, several ideas were tossed around, including asking some of the supermodels for their Alaïa dresses. After all, he explained, the supermodels, in the early part of their careers, were closely aligned to the designer and had a symbiotic relationship with him. Before approaching the models, however, he wanted to make sure Alaïa was comfortable to see his work in the show. “I felt it was a courtesy to approach the designer,” Koda said. “By coincidence, a mutual friend was having dinner with him in Paris the very following night, and I said, ‘Will you tentatively ask him whether or not he would be comfortable with this?’ When she came back, she said he is really not comfortable, so we never pursued approaching the supermodels for their dresses.”
Koda stressed that while Alaïa was never formally approached, he was approached nevertheless. “We would have loved to have had his pieces in the show, but there was a lot of miscommunication,” Koda said. “Maybe it was oversensitivity on my part in broaching it informally rather than with a formal letter. Nobody is to blame. My understanding was that he didn’t want his work in the show,” Koda added, “So I honored it.”
This story first appeared in the May 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Alaïa, though, blames someone else: Anna Wintour. The designer criticized the Vogue editor in chief to both Horyn and, on Thursday, to WWD, claiming Wintour has snubbed his work for the past 15 years and saying “she behaves like a dictator and everyone is terrified of her…but I’m not scared of her or anyone.” The designer, speaking at his Paris residence where the seven unworn dresses now hang, vowed to loan them out for editorials and to continue his campaign. Maybe he should just pick up the phone and call Koda instead?
— Katya Foreman and Marc Karimzadeh
NOW IS HE MAD AT MICHELLE?: Meanwhile, between the Costume Institute flap and his dress reportedly being worn by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Time 100 dinner, Azzedine Alaïa is having quite the week in the spotlight. Trouble is, that square neck tank dress that was part of the First Lady’s widely praised ensemble (along with a Peter Soronen corset belt) on Tuesday evening was actually designed by Michael Kors. “I’ve been digging out of the Alaïa hole all day,” said a good-natured, if exasperated, spokesman for Michael Kors, which sent out a press release setting the record straight. The spokesman also obtained a correction from the popular First Lady fashion fan site, Mrs-O.org, where that outfit had drawn hundreds of rapturous comments and guessing games. The spokesman said the dress was simple enough to go unidentified, but that Ikram Goldman had given the designer the heads up in an e-mail. The erroneous Alaïa credit, which was reported in WWD and many other news sources, apparently came from the White House via Time.
— Irin Carmon
TO BE HONORED: Chuck Townsend, president and chief executive of Condé Nast Publications, will be honored with a centennial award by St. Christopher’s Inn, a temporary homeless shelter and substance abuse treatment center for men. The ceremony will be held on Tuesday in midtown Manhattan.
— Amy Wicks
MOVING ON: Golf World publisher Tom Nolan is leaving his post to join Polo Ralph Lauren as senior vice president, Polo Golf and Tennis. In his new role, Nolan will oversee sales, marketing and customer service for the division. The Condé Nast executive spent six years at the magazine, first as advertising director and later publisher. He leaves as ad pages for the title have fallen 16 percent, to 444. A replacement is expected to be named next week.
— Stephanie D. Smith