Art of Style

Introducing Alaïa Editions – a collection of the label’s most iconic archive pieces

To celebrate the launch of the Alaïa Editions collection, ardent Alaïa collectors YASMIN LE BON, ZHU ZHU and CINDY BRUNA share their most cherished memories of working with the designer and their favorite Alaïa pieces hanging in their closets. By MEGAN LOGUE

Styling Viktorija Tomasevic

As fashion houses go, few elicit the same fervor and devotion as that of Alaïa. Founded in Paris in 1981 by namesake designer Azzedine Alaïa – who cut his teeth working for the likes of Christian Dior, Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler – the label quickly acquired a cult following thanks to its innovative approach to cut and streamlined aesthetic – an antidote to the excess that typically defines the decade. The work of Azzedine Alaïa, who passed in 2017, is venerated in a manner more closely associated with art than clothing. Hence our excitement that the house is re-releasing a selection of his most iconic pieces under Alaïa Editions. These designs have been reproduced faithfully by the atelier according to original designs and reflect the designer’s flawless technique and inimitable cut. To mark this landmark launch, we invited three Alaïa collectors – all of whom worked with and were dressed by the designer – to share their most precious pieces and cherished anecdotes, and explain what the maison means to them.

Yasmin Le Bon, model

“The first time I wore a piece of Alaïa, I had this sense of it being unlike anything I’d ever worn before. I felt like I had found my tribe, it was that decisive, and from that point on I knew I was going to seek his designs out. I have worn his pieces for years – they make you feel like you can face the world; they make you feel strong, powerful and true to yourself. He was a true craftsman, and his understated but elegant pieces let your personality shine through, no matter what age, shape or size you are – that is the true beauty of Alaïa. I actually wore the chiffon dress I brought for this shoot to my husband Simon’s ‘I’m-still-60’ party this summer. I still wheel out my Alaïa pieces all the time – and that dress still has plenty of parties left in it.”

He had a devilish streak to him, too; he loved to wind us all up, but he was also like a papa to us all
Yasmin Le Bon

“The first Alaïa piece I ever owned was given to me personally by Azzedine. It was a fantastic mustard-colored suede bomber jacket. When he gave it to me, I was so embarrassed and shy – I wasn’t used to receiving gifts. I’d just walked in his runway show and hadn’t taken any clothes. Of course, Azzedine got completely the wrong impression and thought I didn’t like his designs. Our relationship could have fallen apart then! Thank god someone said, ‘She’s just shy – you have to make her take something.’ So, one night after dinner, he took me to his shop and forced this great jacket on me, which I never took off from that moment on. We [the models] used to fly ourselves in from all over the world to walk in Azzedine’s shows because the clothes were so amazing; we just loved the way they made us feel, and there was always such a party atmosphere. We all wanted to be together around his table. He had a devilish streak to him, too; he loved to wind us all up, but he was also like a papa to us all.”

Cindy Bruna, model

“One of my very first castings was with Azzedine Alaïa. I grew up in the South of France, and I was still in school when I was scouted by an agency in Paris at the age of 16. They invited me and my mom to the city to learn more about the industry. I didn’t really understand who Alaïa was at the time, but I booked the job and my agency started freaking out. I couldn’t even walk in heels at the time, so I had a crash course at the agency that day. After that, Alaïa continued to book me, season after season. The first designer piece I added to my closet was a T-shirt Alaïa gave me when I was 17. I was so touched that this fashion legend was sharing his work with me. I still have it to this day. The fact that he believed in me really built my confidence. It meant so much to me that Alaïa wanted me to be part of his team, and it was the perfect introduction to the industry, because he was so protective.”

Alaïa knew how to accentuate the shape of a woman’s body. When I’m wearing his timeless work, his art, I feel empowered
Cindy Bruna

“He was such an amazing person; we developed a really close bond because of all the time we spent together – working, of course, but also just hanging out in the kitchen with the whole team. Those moments, where we all sat down to eat together, with Alaïa cracking jokes and the digs running around, were so special. It forged bonds and gave you the sense of being part of a family. Even when I started securing more jobs and traveling more for work, meaning I couldn’t always model in the showroom for him, I asked Alaïa to dress me for events. It was an incredible experience, going back to the showroom as the client, as the one actually being dressed for a fabulous occasion. Alaïa knew how to accentuate the shape of a woman’s body. When I’m wearing his timeless work, his art, I feel strong, beautiful and empowered.”

Zhu Zhu, actor and musician

“I think it was back in 2005 that I bought my first-ever piece of Alaïa – it was the first time I attended Paris Fashion Week. I was shopping and happened upon an amazing sort-of white shell-colored Alaïa trench coat and fell in love with it the minute I tried it on. There’s something about the color that just makes my skin and eyes glow. Fifteen years on, it’s still one of my favorite pieces. Another one of my all-time favorites is a velvet blue dress I bought almost ten years ago; I still reach for it whenever I have a big event to attend. The material is refined, but the fit is also perfect; it’s flattering and comfortable, which is a rare combination – usually you have to choose one or the other. Alaïa’s designs are special in so many ways; the house has come to represent elegant yet effortless design. In many ways, the pieces are quite intimate, because they can feel like lingerie, or a second skin. Alaïa can work for any occasion; the brand is so chic, it’ll never make you feel over- or under-dressed.”

Mr Alaïa started asking if I had any events coming up that I’d need outfits for, so I told him about upcoming premieres I was attending, and he started styling me right away
Zhu Zhu

“Mr Alaïa was such an artist. I had the honor of meeting him in Paris a few months before he passed. I had lunch with him and some friends, and he went straight back to the studio to work afterwards and invited me along. He was still sketching and cutting by himself – it was amazing to see. I got so excited by the pieces I saw everywhere, which really entertained him. Mr Alaïa started asking if I had any events coming up that I’d need outfits for, so I told him about upcoming movie premieres and film festivals I was attending, and he started styling me right away. He took pictures so I’d have references for each look, and I still cherish those photographs, and the memory of that day. It was such a special moment.”

First Time… with Alaïa

Press play to watch Yasmin Le Bon, Cindy Bruna and Zhu Zhu share more of their most precious and cherished memories of Alaïa