From sculptor to couturier, Alaia’s nonconformist nature had led to him being known as the ‘rebellious outsider’ of high couture. His success rose in the 1980s, and from then until his death in November 2017, he disregarded fashion week deadlines and has stayed true to his own personal style.
Throughout the visit, one thing was clear: his works were designed as a second skin to the female figure. The material of each piece was draped along the curves of a woman’s body and it was not difficult to see why he was so unique; Alaia thought with his hands. He played with the concept of motion; using materials such as metallic cloths, lace and mesh to emphasize the fluid movement of the skirt as the model sashayed along the catwalk. One piece stood out; A sturdy, unyielding crop-top, paired with a skirt that was designed to mimic movement. The metal-like material used to make the skirt, was sown side by side with mesh material. Vertical strips of metal. Mesh. Metal. Mesh. And so on. The skirt enabled the model to walk comfortably as it adjusted to her stride. Practical AND aesthetically mesmerizing.
I found another collection interesting. Within this collection, the dressed had an obvious oriental influence from the Chinese Cheongsam. The collars, short-capped sleeves and body fit reminded me of the dresses worn by Chinese women at traditional festivities such as Chinese New Year as well as weddings. Another collection showcased a dress with detailed floral lace designs, which looked Arabic in style. However, the structure of the piece mirrored the Indian Sari; formed by a crop top and a long ankle-length skirt. All in all, Alaia has masterfully created designs that are elegant and sophisticated, characterized by patterned fabric and clean lines – with no glaring slogans, logos or neon colours, all of which are so often seen in today’s fashion trends.
By Tiffany Kwok, MA Media and Creative Cultures