FASHION NEWS

Azzedine Alaïa Is Making an Uncharacteristically Conventional Move: The Beloved Fashion Designer Is Returning to Couture Fashion Week

Mark your calendars.


Fabio Ionà/Getty Images

Azzedine Alaïa is known for a lot of things: his “figure-sculpting” silhouettes, as Vanity Fair proclaimed in 2012; his friendship with and mentorship of the supermodel Naomi Campbell; his seeming total and utter disregard for the conventions of the fashion calendar. Each year, Alaïa’s ready-to-wear shows take place at his own convenience, often off the official calendar; his Spring 2017 show took place in October, a month after Paris Fashion Week had wrapped. He makes couture pieces, which are only sold at his original boutique on Paris’s Rue de Moussy, but hasn’t shown couture since 2011.

Until now. After a six-year hiatus from showing a couture collection, the famed French-Tunisian designer will return to the runway—and he’s even aligned himself with the official couture calendar for the occasion. On Wednesday, July 5, slotted into the schedule just after Valentino and just before Fendi, the Alaïa Fall 2017 couture collection will debut.

Azzedine Alaïa’s Greatest Red Carpet Hits: From Naomi Campbell to Rihanna

Grace Jones with Kenzo and Azzedine Alaïa at a charity event for the fight against AIDS, May 1986. Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell with Azzedine Alaïa and Gilles Bensimon at the departure of Jean-Paul Gaultier show in Paris, France, March 1993. Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage.

Naomi Campbell on the runway at Azzedine Alaïa’s Fall 1991 presentation, June 1991. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell on the runway at Azzedine Alaïa’s Fall 1991 presentation, June 1991. Photo by Getty Images.

Joan Smalls at the premiere of Youth at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Kendall Jenner at the premiere of Youth at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 2015. Photo by Antonia de Moraes Barros/FilmMagic.

Uma Thurman at the premiere of the Nymphomaniac: Volume II Director’s Cut at the 71st Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, September 2014. Photo by Getty Images.

Rihanna at the launch of the Clara Lionel Foundation in Paris, France, June 2014. Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage.

Lady Gaga at the 87th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

In a second Alaïa look of the night, Lady Gaga attends the 87th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Rihanna at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Rosamund Pike at the IWC Gala dinner in Geneva, Switzerland, January 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

NEW YORK – MAY 20: Natalia Vodianova poses during a gala to honor Azzedine Alaia at the Guggenheim Museum May 20, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Stephanie Seymour and Azzedine Alaïa at a Guggenheim Museum gala honoring the designer in New York, New York, May 2004. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.

Kate Upton at the 30th annual Night of the Stars by Fashion Group International in New York, New York, October 2013. Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell at the Azzedine Alaïa retrospective at the Palais Galliera in Paris, France, September 2013. Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage.

Alicia Keys at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Charlize Theron at the 17th annual Critics’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California, January 2012. Photo by Getty Images.

Laetitia Casta at the Vogue Spain December issue launch in Madrid, Spain, November 2012. Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/WireImage.

Naomi Campbell at The Face series premiere in New York, New York, February 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Nicole Kidman at the OMEGA House launch in London, England, July 2012. Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage.

Miranda Kerr at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, June 2011. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell at the de Grisogono party at the Cannes Film Festival in Antibes, France, May 2011. Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage.

Kim Kardashian at The Spin Crowd finale party in New York, New York, October 2010.

Zoe Saldana at the U.K. premiere of Star Trek in London, England, April 2009. Photo by Getty Images.

Mary-Kate Olsen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala in New York, New York, May 2007. Photo by Getty Images.

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Alaïa’s penchant for doing things his own way has earned him legions of fans and a cadre of loyal supermodels: In addition to Campbell, he also counts Grace Jones, Natalia Vodianova, Stephanie Seymour, and even younger stars like Kendall Jenner and Joan Smalls among his admirers. Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga have all worn his pieces. At his last couture show in 2011, the packed front row featured the likes of Kanye West, Sofia Coppola, and fellow designer Donatella Versace, according to WWD.

And his couture collections are particular happenings: That Fall 2011 show was his first runway presentation in eight years, across both couture and ready-to-wear. Though the French designer got his start as a couturier, he began designing ready-to-wear in 1981 and had, more recently, abandoned showing couture. So it may have taken him six more years to follow up his last runway effort in 2011, but that’s precisely what we’ve come to expect. For any other designer, returning to couture on the couture calendar would be protocol. For Alaïa, who always takes his time, it’s an event in itself.

Photos: Azzedine Alaïa’s Sculptural Couture at Galleria Borghese

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

“Azzedine Alaïa Couture/Sculpture.” Photo by the author.

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Azzedine Alaïa once drew on socialite Susan Gutfreund’s body with chalk: