PARIS — When Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his Paris fashion house in 1968, he and jewelry designer Jean Michel Schlumberger marched American society icon Bunny Mellon across the Avenue George V, delivering a crucial client to the house of Givenchy — and sparking what would become a lifelong friendship with its founding couturier.
Hubert de Givenchy remembers exactly how Mellon looked that day.
“She was wearing a navy blue T-shirt and a cotton skirt,” he recalled during an interview on Wednesday, noting he spoke to Mellon by telephone virtually every week, right up until her death on Monday at age 103. “She had a lot of taste and a lot of ideas.” RELATED STORY: Bunny Mellon Dead at 103 >>
The designer would go on to dress Mellon, a garden designer, philanthropist and WASP society icon, until his own retirement from fashion in 1995, turning out everything from gardening hats to evening gowns galore for her “because she had a lot of functions at the National Gallery of Art and other important dinners in Washington.”
Given her broad interests, charitable works, travels and homes stretching from Virginia and New York to Antigua and Paris, “she needed a big wardrobe,” de Givenchy said.
“Not only was she an important client, she quickly became a true friend, full of talent and with so many interests,” de Givenchy said. “She taught me a lot in the garden.”
The designer accompanied Mellon on chartered boat trips through Greece and Turkey, and they also explored France together, a country she loved and appreciated greatly.
While she supported a lot of restoration works in France and particularly at Versailles, including Louis XIV’s fabled Potager du Roi, whose 17th-century splendor was a benchmark in her gardening career, Mellon never sought recognition for her generosity.
Her understated nature was reflected in her clothes and her meticulously decorated homes. “There was never a sense of too much,” de Givenchy marveled.
Mellon had a fun-loving side, and he once took her dancing at Studio 54 in Manhattan. “She found it very amusing,” he recalled. “She loved music.”
Mellon’s appreciation for her wardrobe extended to every member of the Givenchy atelier, whom she kept busy throughout the year. De Givenchy said every Christmas, she would dispatch a basket of small pouches, one for each of the 40 or 50 women and men in the atelier. Each contained a bundle of U.S. dollars.
“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