Azzadine Alaia Ride The Stars

Azzadine Alaia was born in Tunis, Tunisia, an ancient city dating back to Carthage.

His family were wheat farmers, but his glamorous older sister nurtured his love of fashion and his mother’s friend gave the young man VOGUE magazine.

Elegance extraordinaire.

After studying at Tunis’ École des Beaux-Arts Azzadine lied about his age and migrated to Paris, the City of Light, where he was hired to be a tailleur at Christian Dior, because he was an Arab.

When the Algerian War broke out, Azzadine was let go.

“When I was growing up, I never heard the word ‘racism.’ It was only in Paris I encountered that.”

He moved to Guy LaRoche and then onto Thierry Mugler after which he opened his line at his tiny apartment of Rue de Bellechasse.

Within his rooms he dressed the elite and the beautiful.

Marie-Hélène de Rothschild.

Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin.

And the reclusive Greta Garbo.

They rightly loved his sober hue and simple lines.

The diminutive designer was their secret weapon.

Ever the perfectionist.

As he said about another designer, “Karl Lagerfeld never touched a pair of scissors in his life.”

Azzadine knew how to snip like a surgeon to frame a woman’s body for beauty.

His name was murmured in the 1970s.

People discovered his work.

And they knew his dog.

Patapouf, le etoile de mode.

Le Super Punk.

“I put myself on the same level as everyone else around me – from the directrice to the workman, everyone. Except my pets – they are the Kings; you must treat them like royalty.”

I moved to Paris in 1982 to be the physionomiste at the Bains-Douches .

The previous doorperson, Farida, had upgrade her life by haring her statuesque Levantine beauty at Azzedine’s larger atelier off the Marais.

As did my good friend, Christine Bergstrum.

The exotic Marpessa.

And the lovely Candida.

A grace d’elle I was invited to dinners at the Rue du Parc-Royal.

Laughter, freidns, good food, the dogs, and the Napoleon de la mode.

It was the best of times and Azzadine voyaged into the heavens after French Vogue honored his genius.

He was a star.

“There is a sensuality about fabric. I think all materials should be inviting when they touch the skin. When I watch children stroking their mother’s clothes, I feel that I have succeeded.”

“My obsession is to make women beautiful. When you create with that in mind, things can’t go out of fashion.”

“Fashion will last forever. It will exist always. It will exist in its own way in each era.”

After the death of his sister Azzadine retreated from the limelight.

He served his public at his atelier.

I guess he was more comfortable there.

“I would rather die than see my face in a car advertisement.”

I feel the way way too and salute the grand master.

I did not know him well, but as a physionomiste I recognized his soul.

Azzedine shared his smile with the world a good smile and for me that says it all.

Bon Voyage, Mssr. Alaia.

You ride with the stars.

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