PARIS — It was an emotional ceremony. For the unveiling of a plaque honoring Azzedine Alaïa, his people turned out in full force to the storied atelier, including his life partner Christophe von Weyhe and Naomi Campbell, who famously referred to him as Papa.
Coinciding with the opening of the exhibit “Adrian and Alaïa: The Art of Tailoring” at the Maison Alaïa, the event assembled visitors of all ages, including politicians and figures in the fashion world. Campbell, along with Farida Khelfa, paused to take in the rows of tailored dresses crafted by the late designer, which were displayed alongside ones by Gilbert Adrian, the famed Hollywood designer of the Thirties and Forties, before heading out into a chilly courtyard for the speeches.
Campbell bowed her head and leaned against a friend as von Weyhe recounted memories at the Maison Alaïa, where he and Alaïa moved in 1990.
Von Weyhe and Ariel Weil, the mayor of the local Paris district, flanked by Natalia Vodianova and former French culture minister Jack Lang, tugged on strings to pull off the cover of the plaque while Campbell filmed the scene with her phone.
“There is so much admiration, respect, friendship and affection for Azzedine…we have spent such good times here,” recalled Sidney Toledano, chief executive of LVMH Fashion Group. “It’s good that we talk about it, to remember, of course, but also for the new generation of design.”
Alaïa knew how take the time necessary in an era where everything goes very fast, noted Toledano.
“He knew that to do things well it’s rare that they can be done hastily, and that’s a lesson to remember,” he added.
Fixed to the façade of 18 Rue de la Verrerie, the plaque reads “Azzedine Alaïa, 1935-2017.” And, written below, in French:
“French couturier, lived and worked in this house.”