By now Azzedine Alaïa’s tail end of the season show dates have become an institution in Paris. As always the reason he gives for this late timing is that, like fruit, he’s only ready when he’s ready. But it could be said, that the fashion crowd, saturated with a nonstop month of runway spectacles, needs the extra time almost more than he does to adjust its view to take in the subtle details of one man’s simply masterful view of real beauty.
So two weeks after the close of Paris Fashion Week, and only days after the launch of his fragrance Blanche, the faithful gathered at Alaïa's rue de Moussy headquarters for two Sunday afternoon shows. They weren’t disappointed. Alaïa who produced costumes for two ballets while working on the Spring 17collection, had been rumored to be at work non-stop throughout the month of August.
Unlike anything he has done in the past, this spring collection boldly played with pattern and introduced new, looser, more casual shapes that enlarge his design repertoire and open up Alaïa to a wider and younger clientele.
The designer has a thing about circles – kinetic op art circles, bull’s eyes, dotted fringe, studs in giant circular patterns over tank dresses, circles that swell and shrink over curves, heads encircled by multiple headbands, polka dots, double dots and giant mandala-like pansy-covered knits filled the collection. The effect of all these layers of swirling patterns was mesmerizing, in a Yayoi Kusama way.
Over the past few seasons, Alaïa has been engineering major changes on his traditional shapes, leaving his signature wasp-waists, corsets and military tailoring behind in favor of looser, A-lines. This may have been his breeziest collection in years, with every look paired with flat, intricately cutout sandals.
The absence of his signature anatomical cuts left room for pattern and Alaïa indulged his painterly urge to the hilt in a primary palette of red, white, black and navy. The circles were alternated with canvas-like compositions of intersecting, broken lines, some in sequins, and often in two A-line pieces seemed to dance as the models walked.
Leather, a staple for Alaïa, was treated very lightly, like a peasant blouse for one dramatic black dress that opened the show with a single red circular stripe at the hips, or cut on the bias for a floor-sweeping, jagged hem, handkerchief skirt worn with the simplest tank top.
The kinetic patterns injected shape into looser clothes, with enlarging and shrinking bull’s eyes suggesting a swell of curve at the hips or bust, and circle stripes blurring into one another on a skirt creating a sense of forward movement.
Swimwear style tank dresses were intricately striped and layered with fluttering, dotted fringe, while pansy pattern A-lines were scalloped at the hem as though bordered by flowers.
At the end, Alaïa brought out a series of double dresses and skirts in trapeze shapes with a shadow patterned top layer allowing a sneak peak of the snug-fitting patterned pieces underneath. A sneaky way of hiding curves and showing them off at the same time.