Joe Mckenna Pays Tribute to Azzedine Alaïa with New Mini Documentary

Joe Mckenna Pays Tribute to Azzedine Alaïa with New Mini Documentary

Step into the world of one of fashion's most elusive, and beloved, figures.

Step into the world of one of fashion's most elusive, and beloved, figures.

When it comes to Azzedine Alaïa, it's difficult to find the words to do the designer justice; his influence on fashion is indisputable, and timeless as well, existing outside of the seasons and cycles in which the rest of the industry abides. A legend in his own right, stylist Joe McKenna manages to capture this masterful spirit, and his living legacy, in a new mini-documentary.

"The first time I saw Azzedine work, it changed my perception of fashion," says Nicolas Ghesquière at the start of the film. Later, he adds: "He defined a new aesthetic, a new way of dressing for women." Ghesquière is one among many industry titans who answered McKenna's call to speak about the designer.

While many interview subjects—including Sophie Hicks, Vanessa Friedman, and Cathy Horyn—speak of Alaïa's lasting influence, and disregard for the fashion "system," others take a more personal approach. Naomi Campbell refers to the designer as "Papa," detailing how he took care of her in the early days of her career, even letting her stay with him in Paris after being robbed of her Passport and belongings.  "What I love about my papa is this: he don't give a shit, he will not lie, he will not kiss ass," she says. "He's true to his integrity, and if you fuck him [over], you're out, you're done, you're dead." The way Alaïa took care of his models is a highlight of the film, and the reason Suzy Menkes credits him as having "invented the supermodel."

Another aspect of the designer that comes across is his focused, but whimsical nature. As much as he is dedicated to his work, he also has a unique sense of humor. Grace Coddington recalls that he told her he thought Vogue was okay, and that she could borrow clothes sometime, but only if the magazine put him on the cover (with his dog, no less).

All in all, the film succeeds in paying homage to, and offering insight into the life of one of fashion's most elusive and dedicated doyens. As Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele puts it: "[Alaïa] is the only real creator in the world now."

You can watch the film in its entirety here.

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