This Alaïa signature has been remastered – and it’s never felt more relevant
Originally debuted in 1992, Alaïa’s so-called ‘Relax’ yarn was a sartorial revelation, combining ease, polish and practicality. This season, it’s back in the form of a special collection available exclusively from the Parisian maison and NET-A-PORTER
Few fashion houses occupy the sort of hallowed space in the minds, hearts and closets of fashion fans across the world as Alaïa. The label, originally founded in the late 1970s, when eponymous designer Azzedine Alaïa – who had honed his innate talent working at legendary maisons including Christian Dior, Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler – originally dealt exclusively with couture. In fact, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Louise de Vilmorin and Greta Garbo were among his most loyal customers. However, in 1980, Alaïa produced his first ready-to-wear collection, making his epoch-defining designs more accessible to fashion enthusiasts and insiders. Alaïa’s shows were the stuff of fashion folklore: every truly Super model of the 1980s and early ’90s sashayed down his runway in exchange for an armload of his designs – Alaïa was their uniform.
However, the true allure of Alaïa, and what continues to set the label apart from its contemporaries, is the house’s appreciation of the female form. Lauded the ‘King of Cling’, Alaïa used his technical virtuosity and couture sensibility to develop a design aesthetic all his own; one that could, in essence, sculpt and celebrate every woman’s body. This required the creation of custom fabrics, one of which was debuted in the brand’s SS92 collection and referred to as ‘Relax’ yarn. A textile innovation developed with the help of Florentine spinner Lineapiù, this special fabric boasted comfort, polish and practicality.
These pieces might have been inspired by the past, but they’ve been remastered with the modern woman in mind”
Fast-forward almost 20 years, and Alaïa has remastered this singular fabric, creating an exclusive collection of ten covetable yet utterly wearable pieces that would slot into, and elevate, any woman’s wardrobe. The timelessness of the ‘Relax’ yarn is a fitting testament to a designer whose oeuvre has proved to be utterly eternal, and who, even during his lifetime, disavowed the traditional fashion calendar, choosing to debut a new collection only when he deemed it ready and necessary. This time around, the house’s ‘stretch yarn’ also speaks to a topic that has become a central focus of the fashion industry over the past few years – sustainability. Made from six percent carbon fiber and 94 percent ENKA viscose made of FSC-certified cellulose, sourced from wood obtained through sustainable forestry, these pieces might have been inspired by the past, but they’ve been remastered with the modern woman in mind.
From the chic jumpsuit and crop top to the endlessly wearable leggings and wide-leg pants, all cast in black, the collection is made up of the elevated essentials every woman needs in her closet. However, the truly exceptional thing about each design is, of course, the fit. These understated pieces sculpt the body, while also promoting maximum comfort and movement. After a year spent at home, during which time many women have embraced a more relaxed take on getting dressed, these pieces, which offer a refined alternative to sweatpants and loungewear, have never felt more relevant.
The truly exceptional thing about each design is, of course, the fit. These understated pieces sculpt the body, while also promoting maximum comfort and movement”
Prima ballerina with the Paris Opera Ballet, Letizia Galloni – who, along with contemporary dancer and friend of the house Hajiba Fahmy, is the face of this remastered collection – summarized the beauty of this collection best when she described the new ‘Relax’ yarn as “a second skin, a suit of armor to express myself freely”. It’s in this ongoing ability to empower women through design that Alaïa’s spirit lives on.