An Homage to Alaïa - Winter/Spring 2022
It’s an Alaïa, darling
It’s an Alaïa, darling
Text: Michelle Diaz
All eyes were on Pieter Mulier.
This past Sunday night Paris came alive. On a single-block street on the Rue de Moussy, is where the designer Azzedine Alaïa once lived and worked, and now served as the location for the first in-person couture week in over a year.
The street was lit by lights and flashes from phones and cameras coming from all directions with two rows filled with A-listers from the fashion world. They all came to see the Belgian designer, Pieter Mulier, who has spent years working alongside Raf Simons and this was his first time running a house. And not just any house, Azzedine Alaïa’s house.
After the unexpected death of Alaïa back in 2017, no one believed that anyone could ever fill those shoes. Alaïa after all is known as the greatest couturier of the 20th century.
Instead of making the first collection something of his own, he paid tribute to the late designer. He revisited all the classics: the sleek cowl-like hoods, the body-con knits, the crisp white shirting and marabou and python, the bike shorts and corset belts, the constructivist denim and iridescent flou. And the collection wouldn’t be complete without the highly controlled, sculpted volumes: sometimes too much outwardness, sometimes second-skin.
“I wanted to look at 40 years of Alaïa and start with the first codes that I would like to translate to the younger generation,” Mulier said. “We are a house that is very, very sensual and sexual, but never vulgar. We’re the only house actually that can do that.”
To mark a new beginning of the renown label, Mulier traded Alaïa’s signature metal grommets for silver bobbles on laser-cut knits. The focus was on the female body; cutting the shirts so they curved backward at the lower ribs and then up, forming a hood that imitates a headsail on a sailboat; sheer dresses that covered just the right amount.
Mulier purposefully avoided the Alaïa archive, the iconic history of the brand, because he didn’t want to be too intimidated. He also said that when he was auditioning for the job, he told Compagnie Financière Richemont (the Swiss luxury group that owns Alaïa) executives that he wouldn’t do “sweatshirts, nylon or puffers”.
Alaïa always put the woman first, instead of the clothes and Mulier is keeping that motto alive within the brand. The hardest part Mulier has to deal with is navigating how to transcend the power Alaïa gave to women when they wore his clothing. It is not an easy task, but it is possible.
Balancing the past and the present is currently where Mulier resides, but with time he will grow into his own within the brand. And once again, all eyes will be on him.
To see the full collection click below: