Reading is fundamental: a short foray into fashion history teaches us that the concept of the ‘novel’ high-low designer collaboration had already been done and dusted over a decade before it became the thing to do. In 1991, late legend Azzedine Alaïa worked with the most popular French high street retailer, Tati, on a capsule collection consisting of espadrilles, a bag and a T-shirt. That limited collab – playing with the signature Tati houndstooth check – lead to a proper Alaïa collection which is now on display at the Marais-located Association Azzedine Alaïa. Don’t miss “Azzedine Alaïa, Another Way to Look at Fashion: The Tati Collection” on your next foray to Paris.
A trailblazer in countless ways, Alaïa pioneered this mass-market collaboration with a partner that was way beyond any fashion person’s radar at the time and mostly in with the French bargain hunters. But Tati was owned by a fellow Tunisian entrepreneur at the time, and the two companies found a certain kinship in each other. Basing the original collaboration on his childhood memory of French people arriving in Tunis with big, pink gingham Tati shopping bags, Alaïa took things a step further with his SS91 collection.
Curated by Olivier Saillard, the new exhibition focuses on the black, blue, red and white checked, figure-hugging SS91 Alaïa collection pieces that feature artwork by Azzedine’s close friend Julian Schnabel. The American artist was the first person to paint on Tati canvas for an earlier art series and inspired Alaïa to do the collab in the first place. The Tati capsule collection itself is not on display because the pieces were not well preserved. The exhibit also features sketches by Thierry Perez and photographs and video by Ellen Von Unwerth, starring faces such as Alaïa’s ‘daughter’ Naomi Campbell. Recent recipient of the BFC 2019 Fashion Icon Award, Naomi shared with Vogue that meeting Alaïa in 1987 was one of her top 5 career-defining moments. “He was not only my protector, he changed my career and helped me turn into the strong person I am now. I miss him so much still.”
We can expect smaller Alaïa exhibitions like this one for the foreseeable future as it’s said that the couturier owned a massive personal archive of clothing – which the Association Azzedine Alaïa is still exploring and unpacking to this day.
“Azzedine Alaïa, Another Way to Look at Fashion: The Tati Collection”
July 1 2019 – January 5 2020
Association Azzedine Alaïa
Rue de la Verrerie 18
75004 Paris, France
Header image: (c) Thierry Perez