Ronan Bouroullec and Donatien Grau at the Association Azzedine Alaïa

SLOW FASHION: Azzedine Alaïa was notorious for taking his time.

“I remember him calling me about a dress I’d wanted him to lend me for an exhibition, to ask me if I still needed it,” remembered curator Olivier Saillard, speaking at an event at the bookstore of the Azzedine Alaïa Association on Monday. “Unfortunately, the exhibition had opened several weeks prior.”

Saillard was one of the many names to have contributed to “Taking Time,” a book of conversations between Alaïa and his close friends, published by Actes Sud in French and Rizzoli in English on March 11.

Compiled by French writer Donatien Grau, the tome also features words by actress Charlotte Rampling; filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky; artist Julian Schnabel; designer Ronan Bouroullec, and dancer Blanca Li.

Naomi Campbell, a close friend of the late designer, wrote the preface, which was read out at the launch event. “Most of these conversations happened around Papa’s kitchen table,” wrote the model, using her nickname for the couturier.

Taking Time by Azzedine Alaïa and Donatien Grau

“Taking Time” by Azzedine Alaïa and Donatien Grau. 

“We started this book in 2013,” Grau explained during a talk presenting the book to the audience. “Contrary to most designers, like Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli and Mary Quant, Azzedine never wished to write down his memoirs. Instead, he wanted to compile the different conversations he had with his close friends in order to fix them in time. In a way, this book is both a self-portrait and a manifesto.”

The evening was doubly momentous: Christoph von Weyhe, Alaïa’s partner, read out a letter announcing that the French government had officially recognized the existence of the Azzedine Alaïa Association.

“I’m too emotional to speak,” said a choked-up Carla Sozzani, who cofounded the association. “But whenever I talk about Azzedine, it’s impossible for me to use the past tense. He is still here with us, even tonight.”

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