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“It’s an epic event. If Proust were alive, he would be here,” proclaimed Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli before Azzedine Alaïa’s couture show on Thursday, the designer’s first runway outing in eight years. It attracted the likes of Sofia Coppola, Kanye West, Donatella Versace, Victoire de Castellane, French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand and a smattering of bigwigs from retail, photography, design and government.


Was it worth the wait? Certainly. Mitterrand himself jogged backstage to coax Alaïa — famous for playing hard to get — to take a bow. The audience roared when he finally appeared.


Was it revolutionary? Not exactly. But that’s so not the point. For decades, the Tunisian-born designer has been hammering at the same nails, much like painter Mark Rothko never grew weary of bands of color. Alaïa’s canvas is the shapely woman, and his fascination with a defined waist, voluminous skirts and sculpted knits were on glorious display at his Rue de Moussy headquarters as French poetry — Proust in fact — was recited on the soundtrack.


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