>> At 9 pm on the final day of Paris Fashion Week last week, Azzedine Alaia gathered weary editors, buyers, and even Jessica Stam to his studio in the Marais for an impromptu Fall 2010 presentation, complete with drinks and dinner.
The latest issue of LOVE features an interview with Alaia in that same studio, in which one of the designer's longtime assistants tries to explain the Alaia design process: "As his assistants we have never been asked to collect any documentation or anything like that. It is just his hands, the girl, the fabric and the pins. And he does not draw either. There might be a couple of notes to remember how something is tied, but never a drawing of a silhouette. So we do not know where it comes from." Alaia chimes in: "Oui. Oui-oui-oui. There are no moodboards and none of that. I do not think about the clothes or about 'trends.' I just pick up the fabric and go to the girl and the ideas come." In addition to formulating his silhouettes, Alaia also does all of his pattern-cutting, leather work, embroidery, draping, pleating, and the invention of new fabrications himself.
And he watches TV while he works »
In front of Alaia's studio work table is a giant 63-inch TV, on which he watches the National Geographic channel. He's transfixed by all the exotic places shown, but the designer, known for his 24/7 work schedule, says: "I really don’t have time to go out of the house and travel so much. I don’t have another choice but to have a self-sufficient state here. I am hard on myself because I am hard on the people around me." That includes Naomi Campbell, who has known Alaia since she was 17 and refers to him as "Papa," who says: "I was in Paris last week and I stayed with him, I still do whenever I am there. He’s my family. But he is not soft on me either — and that’s how you know he is very real. For one thing if I am putting on weight he tells me immediately!" She laughs. "And he doesn’t hold back!"