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  • ELLE Flashback: The Azzedine Alchemy (May 1992)

    by ELLE
    on May 3, 2010 - 4:08 PM

    Fashion-file

    Representing our 1992 Flashback is a spring spotlight on Tunisian-born, Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaïa. Photographed by Gilles Bensimon and styled by former ELLE Fashion-Editor-at-Large Melka Treanton, the 10-page spread was shot entirely in the designer’s atelier in the Marais district. Also among the pages is an interview with the then 51-year-old designer, where he delights in the space-age fabric he used for his Spring ‘92 collection (he calls the NASA-developed material “Relax” for its purported ability to act as a screen against microwave emissions) and shares credit for those shoes, “a collaboration,” he reminds, with shoe designer Beth Levine and shoemaker Raymond Massaro.

    Probably one of the only designers who can claim to have dressed both a First Lady and Grace Jones (did anyone else catch A View to a Kill on G4 yesterday? Jones’ wardrobe was almost exclusively his), those loyal to the designer’s creations are a veritable who’s who of every industry’s best-dressed. From Madonna to Victoria Beckham to Katie Holmes—who last October wore a stunning, head-to-toe Alaïa look at our Women in Hollywood Awards—Alaïa dresses the elegant, the edgy, and as he has for decades, The Supermodel. Though extraordinarily pricey (cardigans run around $1,400; dresses between $2,500 and $3,500), and not widely shown during Fashion Week, Alaïa designs consistently sell very well at the select international retailers that carry the line.

    To wit: Back in March, on a day I was in need of looking at something pretty, I came upon a Victorian-inspired swing-skirt showpiece overcoat by the designer at Bergdorf Goodman. Artfully structured, simply-lined, available in both bone and black (I was looking at the latter), this was a coat on which I would’ve bet my best pair of shoes no woman could say wasn’t her. Its dizzying $3,995 price-tag, however, was a different story. Just as I was returning coat to hanger to rack, a saleswoman approached me. “We just got those in yesterday—all but two are spoken for,” she said in a kind but matter-of-fact way. “I would get it, dear. Alaïa pieces are very special.”

    And now, a look back at Azzedine Alaïa as he was 18 years ago, then already creating very special pieces for very special women, three of whom are featured alongside him here: Veronica Webb (then 27), Christy Turlington (then 23), and this afternoon’s highly anticipated Oprah interview subject, Naomi Campbell (then 21).

    —Johanna Cox

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    Maryanne May 3, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    naomi campbell, christy turlington & veronica webb.
    and those iconic ‘ goddess’ shoes which were made for naomi and fashioned after her leg shape.
    clothing was amazing that year.

    M May 4, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Young Naomi Cambpell..
    So cool, she’s a top top model !
    Awesome shoes!!!

    anthony June 13, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    thank you so very much for this article.
    not enough is written about the great mr alaia.
    to find articles like this are a godsend for those interested in the great master’s working process……..can’t get enough …..i want more !

    ed hardy June 29, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Back in March, on a day I was in need of looking at something pretty