NEW YORK — The late Art Cooper’s family, friends, protégés and colleagues from across fashion and publishing filled Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall Wednesday morning to pay tribute to a man who ended up larger than life in nearly everything he did. Cooper, 65, died of a stroke on June 9.
In between speakers, who included Ralph Lauren and Condé Nast chief executive officer Steven Florio, Harry Connick Jr. and his quartet played a few sentimental standards: “As Time Goes By,” “One for the Road” (a Sinatra classic and a Cooper favorite) and “Once in Love With Amy,” the last an emotional tribute to the late GQ editor’s wife, Amy Levin Cooper.
In the audience of 350, leading figures of the industries Cooper helped shape and define sat side by side: Lauren with Advance Publications chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr., and Joseph Abboud with Alan Flusser, among many others.
Cooper’s friend and fellow editor, Frank Lalli, played unofficial master of ceremonies for much of the service, recalling that Cooper was the one man he could bring himself to hug. “I couldn’t keep my hands off the guy!” said Lalli. He also offered the first of many reminiscences of having lunch with Cooper at the Four Seasons. “I’d find him on his leather throne, with his scepter — a Grey Goose martini — in his hand….Not only was his suit handmade, the banquette fit him perfectly as well,” Lalli said.
Lauren recalled how different men’s fashion had been before Cooper’s GQ came along. “It was an industry not composed of designers, but manufacturers….He brought in a whole new world.”
But Cooper had designs on creating a modern men’s magazine long before he was ever offered the job at GQ. Eliot Kaplan, now Hearst’s editorial talent scout and once one of Cooper’s charges at Family Weekly, said, “Even Art knew he was slumming there [at Family Weekly], and over coffee at the Brasserie and cheeseburgers at P. J. Clarke’s, he laid out the plans for ‘Renaissance,’ which would combine sex and service and fashion and literature.”Marty Beiser, Cooper’s longtime deputy at GQ, said Cooper had so many different qualities that they sometimes contradicted one another. “Nurturing and demanding,” Beiser said, “exuberant and sardonic.” Beiser’s former boss once asked him to sum up Cooper’s personality in one word for a reporter, while Cooper was in the process of being interviewed. To be contrary, Beiser offered “avuncular, which of course Art was not. He gave me that look, the look that said, ‘You are the stupidest person in the world,’ and told the reporter, ‘He gave the wrong answer.’”
And one of Cooper’s best friends, Alan Richman, GQ’s food critic, offered a list of people and things Cooper loved more than him, including Cooper’s driver, Richman’s wife, Amy Levin Cooper’s cooking and “living legends like [baseball pitcher] Sandy Koufax and Ralph Lauren. I’d put Steve Florio on that list — but I think Art loved me more than he loved you,” he said to Florio, as the crowd laughed.
Also in the audience were Cooper proteges Linda Wells, David Granger, and Ellegirl’s Brandon Holley. Holley also spoke, pointing out that her job interview with Cooper was to the point. “I hear you tended bar and love Faulkner,” he said. “Do you want the job?”
Others present included Anna Wintour, Graydon Carter; Richard Beckman, Ron Galotti, Leonard Lauder, and Nautica’s David Chu.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast