UPDATED: Alaïa showed its new summer 2020 during Paris Fashion Week.
“Monsieur Alaïa always said ‘A season must not destroy the previous one,’” said Caroline Fabre Bazin, the Parisian house’s studio director. Mining the extensive body of work left by the late couturier, his teams added new evolutions based on archives and unused developments, divided in three subsets.
Those with deep pockets will turn to the Editions Limitées semi-couture line. Sheer tulle was overlaid with a second layer printed with a brushstroke effect, giving a burnished gold gleam to a hooded, floor-skimming gown. Another, a multitude of lace ruffles nodding to a 2015 design, had been so labor-intensive the ateliers didn’t have the bandwidth to produce it in a different color.
As a nod to the Tati exhibition showcased at the Azzedine Alaïa Association, the Editions collection focused on the other themes of his spring 1991 collection: denim and polka dots. Re-created to his exacting standards — bar the addition of occasional hidden zips for ease of use — this is the opportunity to get that halter-neck denim dress with side cutouts and its matching jacket; a summer peacoat with polka dots, or knit crop T-shirts.
But that’s not to say the rest of the collection wasn’t as deeply rooted in the brand. Here is where the design team experimented with new combinations or revisited techniques on different materials. Ladder-stitch openwork, previously used on fabric only, outlined the cut of an A-line knit dress. The perfecto jacket, a house classic, was remade in its original pattern but in silver python. Denim was decorated in stud appliqué arabesques. Chiffon, in geometric embroideries or dotted with rubber appliqué designs developed by the late couturier but never used, became goddess dresses. On a handful of knit bags and T-shirts, the A design from the Comme des Garçons collaboration made an appearance.
Piqué fabric, also a favorite, telegraphed summer in white separates. Among more basic staples, the knit bodysuit was made youthful thanks to a polo-shirt collar. As proof that the commercial range remains profoundly Alaïa, a dress originally made for Stephanie Seymour, until then not commercially produced, was seamlessly slotted in amongst its peers. The message: no nostalgia, but a recognizable signature. — Lily Templeton
RTW Spring 2020
More than 25,000 archive pieces are currently being organized at Azzedine Alaïa’s former residence on the Rue de Moussy, which is in the process of becoming a foundation honoring the late fashion designer’s legacy.
“We’re in possession of all the pieces he ever designed, as well as all the patterns,” said Caroline Fabre Bazin, the Parisian label’s studio director. “We have all the material to work on his heritage.”
All of Alaïa’s signatures — the embroidered jacquard dress, the nipped-in waist, the leather bra, the raffia cage skirt — were worked into the label’s spring 2020 collection, which was sweeter and lighter than previous efforts. Dominant tones were black, white and nude, with some occasional pops of color in the form of red knitted dresses and a kaleidoscopic leopard print on a clinging minidress.
The collection allowed for glimpses of Alaïa’s eye for garment construction: The pleats of a leather skirt, a riff on a piece designed in the Eighties, were held together by a thick belted waist, while movement was added on a black knitted dress thanks to diagonal ribbing running from shoulder to hem. The designer’s fascination with flamenco was visible on a long frilly dress with lace inserts, while new this season was the use of tulle in thin strips on a white cotton shirt.
Also presented were pieces from the Editions collection, exact re-creations of pieces from past collections, using the same fabrics, patterns and even manufacturers. Some were updated for current trends, like a tailored denim jacket whose extreme shoulder padding was deflated. All the items carry a label specifying the exact collection the original piece was taken from, with almost museum-like precision. — Fleur Burlet
To see the full collection, click the photo below.