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Azzedine Alaïa, the last tailor who was still sewing her clothes



A plaque at 18 Rue de la Verrière in Paris states that this was the place Ezzedine Ali He had his own workshop, shop, guest rooms, and house. Today it houses his foundation, because in 2017 he left Fall “sew carved women” In an irreversible coma. Maison continues to pose, dressing clients like Rihanna, who donned one of his ‘look’s in translucent paper and black leather at Red Carpet Oscar. And his legacy is very much alive with works like the movie Azzedine Ali: The Fashion Designer Who Shaped Women (2022)Director’s greetings Olivier Nicklaus to French Tunisian sewing that She reinvented the feminine silhouette and reigned supreme in the 80’s and 90’s with her sexy and powerful outfits.. He went free, without advertising his brand or being in servitude on the official industry show calendar.

With this bar will be opening, next Wednesday, on 7th edition of the Moritz Feed Festival (MFD)Barcelona Documentary Film Festival. Before the premiere, we spoke with the director and one of the film’s protagonists, Farida Khelfaa model, muse, and friend of genius whose fans included women as diverse as Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Tina Turner, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kim Kardashian or Michelle Obama.

“It is the saga of a poor young gay boy born in the Tunisian countryside who became one of the most famous fashion designers in Paris, who dressed the celebrities of the time.”

Olivier Claus

Although the sector is “very familiar with The importance of Azzedine Ali’s work in the history of fashion, perhaps not so obvious to the general public,” Niklaus notes about the timing of his film. He admits that a lot of “the responsibility lies with the tailor himself, who has always been away from the cameras. But it was precisely this ‘appreciation’ that was key to the start of his documentary work for the film, whose final message can also be summed up as The saga of a poor young gay boy born in rural Tunisia who became one of the most famous couturiers in Paris, who dressed the celebrities of the day”. He sums up: “His life shows that you can be born very far from industry and still find a way for yourself.”

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Maghrebi culture icons

In the 1980s, when former “top” Farida Khelfa, born in Lyon but of Algerian parents, became Alaa’s muse, they both became Symbol of the victory of North African youth culture in France. “It still amazes me when I hear guys call my name during school. Paris Fashion Week. 20 years and they know my name! I owe everything to Azzedine, ”the actress also admitted.

“It still amazes me when I hear 20-year-olds call my name during Paris Fashion Week. I owe it all to Azzedine”

Farida Khelfa

Nicklaus, who has already talked about Ezzedine’s work in his work “Fashion Pack” trilogy (2012), the second episode, “Antifashion”, and the third, “Go global”, will also be shown at MFD, and it tells us in life He has persecuted the ‘fashion designer’ on several occasions To make a documentary about it. “It just happens I lived two blocks from his headquarters in Paris, so I often ran into him in a grocery store that we both liked, on “Rue” Rambuteau. Every time, I told him I was going to make a movie, and every time, he would tell me, “No,” he recalled. Therefore, after his death, already in 2020, he spoke with his foundation, which helped him in his project: “Provide me with files and videos of performances, special moments and photos …”.

Lagerfeld, go ‘enemy’

The world of fashion has changed a lot; He actually did it when Ezzedine was still alive. “Today, designers are art directors. Covering every aspect of the brand in 360 degrees. It is the model created by Karl Lagerfeld, one of Azzedine’s most famous enemies! That is, now the designers They think more about brand identity than they cut and sew dresses themselves. I don’t see an equivalent in the big names in the industry today,” says the director, who compares Alaïa’s way of working with Balenciaga’s. In fact, “Izz al-Din had a huge collection of 20,000 items from his ancestors in the art of making dresses, From Poiret to Balenciaga, from Madame Grès to Michael Jackson’s glove”. This aspect, i.e. liking and collecting, would be Plot A The upcoming Nicklaus documentarywhich underscores the “great respect” he felt for him “Maestro” from Guitaria: “After buying his clothes, he unpacked them to try to understand their architecture.”

Other greats, like Dior, have stood by Alaïawhose last name, by the way, was of Spanish origin, in Alaya. As the documentary shows, The young man, who had just arrived in Paris in 1956, worked for a week in his workshopuntil “They kicked him out because of the events in Algeria and because he didn’t have the papers.”. “Divine justice” came decades later. In 2011, Al Maison contacted him after he fired its then creative director, John Gallianoto pronounce Anti-Semitic insults of a couple in a bar in Paris. “It was already late, at that time Ezz El-Din had his own company, which was doing very well, and above all, He was free to go at his own pace“, says Niklaus, who believes that” this way Don’t bow to the system Today is a thing It is very much associated with the younger generation“.

“sculptor” of the female body

Another of his greatest accomplishments was that He knew how to lift the female body, Unique indicates. Maybe because he grew up with his mother, twin sister, and aunts, maybe because He studied sculpture in fine arts, “He knew how to understand a woman’s soul better than anyone else, and he saw virtues where we only saw flaws,” says the model. I’ve done it with The first clients, from the high society of the capital of the SeineAnd And he later did it with a whole bunch of “top models.”, which he is credited with not only creating it as a concept but also having come to welcome it into his home. from Elle MacPherson, Linda Evangelista or Cindy Crawford, and even Naomi Campbell.

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The latter, says Niklaus, “arrived in Paris at the age of fifteen to model for Azzedine. But he lost his suitcases and papers on the trip. He called his mother to assure her that he would take care of Naomi. For this reason, ever since, we called him “dad”. When she was out partying at night, he always made sure she got back to sleep early enough to perform the next day’s show.”

Models like Naomi were sleeping at Azzedine’s house instead of going to an anonymous hotel. I gave them that kind of A family ambiance which they could not find in other fashion houses. He gave them clothes [vestidos de cuero, cazadoras con cremalleras, leggis y faldas ajustadas…] Which made it so beautiful and powerful! The funny thing is that with all that cordiality, he paid them much less than, say, Versace, one of the greats famous for using “top models” in his shows,” the filmmaker highlights with a laugh.

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