He has been described as the designer who “moulded women’s bodies into the best versions possible using a needle and thread“. When Azzedine Alaïa passed away at the age of 82 (from heart failure), fashion magazines and newspapers were flooded with tributes paying homage to his prodigious sense of design and fashion. Alaia’s humble beginnings belie the legacy he left behind. He was born around 1940 to wheat farmers in Tunis, Tunisia. Growing up in Tunisia, his first apprenticeship was to a midwife with whom he helped deliver babies from the age of 10. He began his career assisting a dress-maker because, in his own words, “when I realised I couldn’t be an amazing sculptor, I changed direction”. Thanks to this decision Azzedine Alaïa has dressed celebrities from Naomi Campbell, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Jones to Michelle Obama. What many of his mannequins have in common is that they reveal the beauty of designs clothed in full bodied and curvy women. Alaia used his talents to celebrate womanhood. He changed the way the catwalk looked at women’s bodies.
“You didn’t have to be skinny to wear his clothes,” says Sophia Neophitou, editor-in-chief of 10 Magazine and a close friend of Alaïa. “He liberated women like me, who have boobs and a bum, from being told we should wear tents all the time.
As mothers and carers we choose clothes for our children when they are passive, little angels. Once they hit the “three-nager” years and beyond, they begin to assert their taste in colours, in styles and ensembles. How do we as mothers and carers respond?
Every compliment, every remark and every look of approval or disapproval leaves a foot-print in our children’s journey towards self-love and self-esteem. They’ll never be dressed by the amazing Azzedine Alaia but as their mothers or carers we are the biggest designers and influencers in their lives.
Photo credit – Vogue Magazine