There is so much to see at Alaïa that deciding what to look at first feels like a challenge. Ultimately, three ideas stuck after a showroom appointment with Caroline Fabre Bazin, Azzedine Alaïa’s longtime right arm and studio director.
The first was the floral theme that ran through the collection in various guises. An abstract flower print looked almost like marbling on a plunge-neck dress with a built-in bra that eagle-eyed fans will recognize as a model worn in gold by Madonna in the late Eighties. Lightweight wool muslin was adorned with broderie anglaise bouquets while flowers climbed all over the surface of a gray wool A-line coat.
Then there was the interplay of masculine and feminine that came across in more tailored looks such as a trompe-l’oeil jumpsuit and the heavy presence of trousers in the collection.
Other standouts included leathers taken from 1983 collections, jacquards that used a heat-reactive yarn that formed geometric tribal patterns once finished and a bustier — a shape once made for Naomi Campbell — that will be revisited more fully in the later fall line.
And finally, the backs of the pre-fall’s outerwear held particular fascination. “He would always tell us, ‘The back is the last impression you leave, so it’s important to be beautiful from behind’,” said Fabre Bazin. In the sweep of a coat or the curve of a shoulder line, there were unmistakable nods to the work of Cristoóbal Balenciaga, whose work Alaïa admired, as evidenced in the archive he collected over the years and currently the subject of an exhibition at the Association Azzedine Alaïa.