The son of Tunisian wheat farmers, the late fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa is credited as the inventor of the body-con dress and silhouette—designed to hug and trace the natural curves of the wearer like a glove. “No other dress can make a woman look and feel as good as an Alaïa dress,” model Naomi Campbell once said, “because it cinches a woman’s body perfectly.”
Deeply committed to the meticulous construction of his garments, Alaïa was known as one of few designers who continued to cut their own clothing patterns, sew samples, and conduct fittings, even as he aged. He is also remembered for rejecting the official show calendar of the fashion world; rather than present whole collections as part of global fashion weeks, he much preferred to reveal his work when he felt it was ready, relying on a carefully amassed team of collaborators and supporters who helped ensure his visions came to life as works of art, not mass-produced garments.
Throughout his career, Alaïa dressed the likes of Naomi Campbell (who called him “papa”), Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Yasmin Le Bon, and Christy Turlington. Keep scrolling to explore a number of works from the PhxArt collection by the Tunisian couturier, hailed by The New York Times as one of the greatest and most uncompromising designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Azzedine Alaïa, Bodysuit, spring/summer 1985. Viscose knit. Gift of Karin Legato.
Azzedine Alaïa, Jacket, fall/winter 1989. Wool gabardine. Museum purchase of the Emphatics Archive with funds provided by: Barbara Anderson, Milena and Tony Astorga, Jacquie Dorrance, Ellman Foundation, Michael and Heather Greenbaum, Diane and Bruce Halle, Nancy R. Hanley, Ellen and Howard Katz and Miriam Sukhman.
Azzedine Alaïa, Bodysuit, fall/winter 1986. Wool knit. Museum purchase of the Emphatics Archive with funds provided by: Barbara Anderson, Milena and Tony Astorga, Jacquie Dorrance, Ellman Foundation, Michael and Heather Greenbaum, Diane and Bruce Halle, Nancy R. Hanley, Ellen and Howard Katz and Miriam Sukhman.