Attended by global stars and fashion icons alike — from Monica Bellucci and Owen Wilson to Raf Simons and Pierpaolo Piccioli — the Belgian designer’s first runway show for the legendary Couture Maison confirmed the newly-appointed Creative Director as the worthy heir of Azzedine Alaïa
Words by: Gilda Bruno
July 4, 2021: Four years after the passing of founder Azzedine Alaïa, the Tunisian couturier known, among the others, for having invented the supermodel and for his ground-breaking take on craftsmanship, Maison Alaïa has finally returned to the fashion scene gracing the start of Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. And what a come back!
Taking over the cultural legacy of the pioneering Parisian fashion brand from the Marais district, once home to Azzedine Alaïa himself, Creative Director Pieter Mulier presented the audience with a collection reflecting the label’s decades-long devotion to celebrating the countless facets of female beauty.
“It is an absolute dream to join this prestigious Maison, its beautiful ateliers, and its talented team,” Mulier said to the press in light of his appointment as Creative Director of the label earlier this year in February. “Always ahead of his time and open to all arts and cultures, Azzedine Alaia’s powerful vision has served as an inspiration, as he always sought to give the necessary time to innovative and enduring creation.”
For his debut collection at Alaïa, Mulier, who served as Raf Simons’ right-hand man for almost twenty years at his eponymous label as well as at Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, and Christian Dior, revisited the brand’s all-time classics — from the signature cowl-like hoods and skintight knits to the structured white shirting, bike shorts, and corset belts — while still giving proof of his unique sense of style and artistic genius.
The Belgian designer’s vision and the essence of the collection were, in fact, not only exemplified but also enriched by his meticulous attention to detail: whether it was through the addition of silver touches of light carefully placed on perfectly-fitting knits; or via the play of contrasting fabrics, designs, volumes, and transparencies of which he orchestrated the rhythm as if in a ‘fashionable concerto.’
Suspended between the reminiscence of early-days Alaïa and the allusion to the evolving face of the Parisian fashion Maison, Mulier’s first attempt at continuing the brand’s tradition of elegance, sensuality, and wearability was, above all, a tribute to its visionary founder.
“I tried to be faithful to your creative approach. I even tried to get into your mind, but that’s impossible,” read the letter that the newly-appointed Creative Director of the label wrote to accompany the launch of his debut collection.
“I have so many questions. So many things I imagine. You. Passionate, stubborn, charming. You who designed beauty more than fashion, as you liked to say. Thank you for your peerless adulation of the feminine figure. You were a sculptor, a genius of the hand. Thank you, Azzedine, for your audacity that helps me today to take risks in the act of creating. With all my heart, Pieter Mulier”