Azzedine Alaïa returns to runway after 6-year hiatus

Azzedine Alaïa is back. Last night, fashion’s most reclusive couturier presented his Fall 2017 collection – his first runway show since 2011 – and it was nothing short of iconic. Naomi Campbell made a rare catwalk appearance to open and close the show, just hours before revealing her appointment as Contributing Editor to Edward Enninful’s British Vogue dream team.

Alaïa has never been one to follow the industry rules, staunchly working outside the seasonal calendar. He only presents when inspired, and designs discreetly in the privacy of his home. In true Alaïa fashion, his show had an old-school sobriety with his architectural creations itself – and not a legion of it-girls – stealing the show.

One might expect something revolutionary after such a hiatus, but the designer presented 68 looks cut from the same cloth he’s been showing for decades. His collections follow a formulaic aesthetic code; with his innovation translating in the materials and technicality he explores. The celebratory show featured a myriad of references, from folkloric motifs and Art-Deco florals to 60s mod. All his signature silhouettes made an appearance; cocoon coats over skater skirts and corset belts nipped flowing knit plissé gowns. The models were topped off with a towering glossy head wrap, echoing his Tunisian roots with a modernist flair. The palette was distinctively Alaïa, where laser-cut black metallics were sprinkled with sumptuous jewel tones and leopard print.

In reworking his own signatures, the collection emphasized the timelessness of his unwavering vision. Over the years he’s amassed an illustrious fan base of editors, designers and OG supermodels alike, and the show was an ultimate reunion of fashion iconography.  Campbell – who affectionately calls Alaïa ‘Papa’ – has been the designer’s longtime muse and confidante, after taking her under his wing at the advent of her career.  She shared the spotlight with Karlie Kloss, another runway rarity, giving the highly anticipated affair an Insta-worthy appeal.

As Clueless’s Cher Horowitz infamously cried, “This is an Alaïa…It’s like a totally important designer,” begging an armed robber to spare her little red dress, the designer is a legend of fashion culture. In a trend-crazed world of never fast enough fashion, Alaïa’s rejection of the system and agelessness of his designs make him a rare gem in the industry. He received a standing ovation as he took a bow, and only time will tell when or if he ever shows again. In our clickbait-y culture where fashion trends have the lifespan of a mere scroll, let us praise Monsieur Alaïa for his reminder of eternal style.

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