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Azzedine Alaïa Talks Retrospective, Flagship

The fall exhibit will mark the reopening of the Musée Galliera and will spread to a second site, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Azzedine Alaia

PARIS — Azzedine Alaïa, who toils away at his Rue de Moussy headquarters in the Marais district, is spreading his wings further in Paris.

This fall, a retrospective exhibition of his designs to mark the reopening of the Musée Galliera will spread to a second site, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, including its famous Salle Matisse, the designer told WWD.

The modern art museum is located roughly across the street from the Galliera, which has been closed for renovation for several years.

Alaïa said the sprawling exhibition, curated by Olivier Saillard, is to showcase as many as 100 dresses, all culled from his personal archive. Precise opening dates and other details of the showcase have yet to be finalized, but it is sure to be a headline event on the fall cultural calendar.

In October, Alaïa plans to open a flagship at 5 Rue de Marignan. He said the main floor would be dedicated to accessories and shoes, with ready-to-wear showcased over two upper floors.

The 18th-century townhouse, a stone’s throw from the tony tree-lined avenue that is home to designer stores including Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Prada, Valentino, Chanel and Fendi, will also house administration and accounting functions.

“It’s going to become the second Avenue Montaigne,” Alaïa predicted of the Rue de Marignan, which runs roughly parallel with the premier luxury strip, emanating from between the fashion canteen L’Avenue and the Céline boutique, which is moving to the Avenue Montaigne and will replaced by Dior Homme.

Alaïa praised the environs as one of true luxury. Indeed, the Avenue Montaigne boasts new flagships for Chanel, Saint Laurent and Fendi, slated to open during couture week.

Alaïa has tapped many of his design and artist buddies — including Marc Newson, Martin Szekely and Kris Ruhs — to create lighting and furniture for the imposing store.

He said he would keep his historic Paris retail location at 7 Rue de Moussy, which has no window display and buzzes in shoppers and couture clients.

During an interview in his sprawling kitchen, a pony-sized St. Bernard dog sprawled at his feet, Alaïa said he’s already at work on his first signature perfume, having inked a 13-year fragrance and cosmetics license with Beauté Prestige International. The first Alaïa fragrance is expected to hit the market in 2015.

The brand, long prized by specialty stores for its strong sell-through, has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, making him a go-to designer for models, art dealers and fashion professionals.

Naomi Campbell, among his inner circle, was recently in town shooting an editorial with photographer Dominique Issermann, the designer related.

While owned since 2007 by luxury group Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, parent of Cartier, Chloé, Dunhill and other brands, Alaïa retains a fiercely independent spirit.

To wit: The designer took sharp exception to remarks by retail veteran Dawn Mello that were published in WWD on May 21.

Mello said Martha “Marty” Wikstrom — who resigned her role as chief executive officer of Richemont Fashion and Accessories, a role she had been in since 2009 — had “launched Azzedine Alaïa in the U.S. and really built the brand internationally.”

Alaïa said Wikstrom “launched nothing and built nothing” for him, noting that his brand has been present in America since the early Eighties, when he staged fashion shows at Bergdorf Goodman and the Palladium nightclub.

He added that the U.S. remains his largest market, and he has partnered for years with retailers including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Maxfield and Ikram.