“Fashion will last forever”, stated Azzedine Alaïa just days before his sudden passing five months ago. “It will exist in its own way in each era”, he added not knowing that his unparalleled work will shortly serve as a living proof of this statement. Today, his reputation is an ongoing (and loving) legacy that continues to flourish and grow. The great couturier who perpetually captured the essence of femininity was able to reconstruct and revolutionize women’s clothing and create bona fide works of art. In 2016, plans have been under way for his first-ever London store, the only maison outside Paris. He last visited the spacious 6.000-foot space at 139 Bond Street in October 2017. Alaïa envisioned it to be a source of light and reflection. Last Monday, his friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate the opening of the flagship store and a profound impact he had on the fashion industry.
The designer’s unique aesthetic was successfully translated into the space— a three-floor store filled with the works of artists and architects he loved and admired. The history of the building itself, that once belonged to jeweler S.J. Phillips, along with the fact that it is located just across the street from Sotheby’s, adds to the magnificence of the space. An extraordinary twisting staircase, running through all three floors and allowing light to permeate up and down the space, was designed by Kris Ruhs, a friend of Alaïa’s since the 1990’s. Ruhs also contributed a particular cascade of lights that runs from the top floor down to the ground. This perfectly complements the sculptural lighting design of Marc Newson, another longtime friend and collaborator of Alaïa. Even the shelving and furniture was hand-picked by Alaïa to conduct light. Pieces by Renzo Piano, Shiro Kuramata, Naoto Fukasawa and Piero Lissoni not only contribute to the brilliant spirit of the space, but also allow the work of Alaïa to seize the eye. Additionally, there are so many windows that add natural lighting and brightness to the store. Of all the non-Alaïa pieces in the collection catalog that furnishes the shop, only two stray from the theme of transparency, light, and reflection. One is an abstractedly patterned carpet designed by the great Milanese architect Gio Ponti, and the other is a moodily atmospheric painting of Hamburg, Germany, by night. That is by Christophe von Weyhe, Alaïa’s longtime partner in both business and life.
Naomi Campbell, Alaïa’s longtime friend and a muse, co-hosted the opening ceremony and reminisced his genius, simplicity and a warmly inviting soul. “The architecture is clean. It’s just what he wanted. It has a great energy, a great vibe and it’s really his style.” As for the Maison itself, it will continue to work in the future, staffed by the same thirty people who worked there previously. Nobody left, making a conscious decision to learn from his work and continue producing amazing clothes. It makes sense, the way I see it since Alaïa always thought about the future, rethinking how to become immortal.
Photo credit: Wallpaper, Vogue, 10.