Enter Alaïa’s Next Chapter With Pieter Mulier’s New Vision
The ultimate salute to the French maestro.
If, to Azzedine Alaïa, women’s bodies were a divine instrument, he wrote the music. Following the beloved designer’s death in 2017, Belgian-born designer Pieter Mulier—a longtime collaborator of Raf Simons—had a daunting task: to pick up on the notes established by Monsieur Alaïa and create a melody of his own as the newly appointed creative director of the house. His first showing, for FW21, was a stunning tribute to the late maestro with an invigorating twist, with pieces that riffed on Alaïa’s signature body-con silhouettes, with statement luxe details, as well as modern hooded dresses that recalled the Alaïa designs famously worn by Grace Jones.
“Azzedine spent all his life in the search for perfection,” says Carla Sozzani, the president of the Alaïa foundation and a lifelong friend of the designer. “He was a couturier in the real sense, a master in all disciplines of fashion and a real artisan, and obsessive about his craft. He represents the essence of freedom, the only one to dare to do only as he liked to preserve the integrity of his oeuvre.” And he was not stingy. The designer put community first—as showcased in the iconic 1995 documentary Unzipped. “He was the most generous person I have known,” says Farida Khelfa, the model, filmmaker, and longtime muse to Alaïa. Dinner parties chez Azzedine were legendary. “His kitchen was always open for everyone,” Khelfa adds. “From the housekeeper and dog walker, to Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, or Jean-Michel Basquiat.”
That inclusive ethos extended to imparting his deep knowledge to his colleagues. Azzedine was a great teacher,” Sozzani notes. “He taught every day his craft to his ateliers and left a legacy that is going to guide the path of the future of Maison Alaïa.” In Pieter Mulier’s hands, that vision lives on. As Mulier put it in the fall/winter show notes: “sensuality, sexuality, and attitude.” Then, now, forever, that’s Alaïa.