Feb 3 2021
Maison Alaïa took advantage of Parisian haute couture week to present its latest ideas and regain its leading position, relying heavily on its unique archives.
Organized on the third floor of his modernist-style boutique on rue Marignan, in the Golden Triangle, the presentation unveiled both the Fall-Winter 2021 collection and the latest launch of the Editions line, which revives the great classics of Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most influential couturiers of the last fifty years.
The Editions line was imagined shortly after Alaïa’s death in 2017. Since then, the range has grown and now includes perfectly cut white shirts, the kind of pieces that Alaïa did better than anyone, coats in perforated jersey , or large shearling jackets with wide collars. All of these models exude the spectacular panache and sensual chic that were at the heart of Azzedine Alaïa’s DNA. Born into a family of Tunisian farmers, the couturier moved to Paris in 1957, before conquering the city in his own way.
The Editions also feature the wide belts and luxurious corsets – sadomasochistic inspiration – that Alaïa loved. And several versions of a bag designed two decades ago, but never presented to the public.
Like many geniuses – which was, in the field of fashion, Azzedine Alaïa – this one could be complicated, even very complicated. He refused to organize his parades during the official seasons, which forced American buyers to cross the Atlantic especially to discover his collections. Many, of course, willingly lent themselves to the exercise, which gives the measure of his talent. Alaïa dressed global icons like Madonna, Carla Bruni, Grace Jones, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyoncé, Raquel Welch, Naomi Campbell and Nicki Minaj.
The house is now managed by its CEO Myriam Serrano, an experienced executive who arrived in September 2019 after working for Chloé, another brand of the luxury empire giant Richemont controlled by the wealthy South African family Rupert. A Swiss-based luxury goods conglomerate that also controls Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dunhill, Montblanc and which recently funded the launch of AZ Factory, Alber Elbaz’s new home.
Myriam Serrano completely rebuilt Alaïa’s design studio, which enabled her to develop new accessory models, particularly in the eyewear sector, where Alaïa now operates a license with Kering Eyewear. But when asked about it, Myriam Serrano takes care to emphasize how determined she is to stay close to Alaïa’s DNA, still palpable in her remarkable archives.
The house still has its historic headquarters at 7 rue de Moussy, in the Parisian Marais district, which brings together a small 19th century factory and a neoclassical church. There we find the couturier’s foundation, his small mansion, an airy boutique and the huge dressing room where Azzedine welcomed his most illustrious clients, in the center of which we can admire an impressive pictorial work by Julian Schnabel.
Few of the fashion foundations are as dynamic as that of Alaïa, headed by her great friend, the legendary Carla Sozzani, owner of the concept store Corso Como in Milan. The latter stages magnificent themed exhibitions around the work of Azzedine Alaïa – even if her activity was interrupted by the pandemic.
We met Myriam Serrano during the presentation, to find out more about her plans for the exceptional fashion house she is responsible for.
“The first thing that Johann Rupert [le PDG de Richemont, ndlr] told me when I first arrived, it’s “take my time” – what every CEO in the luxury and fashion world dreams of hearing. He told me that I had to focus on the traditions, the values of the brand, and on what makes it different, ”says Myriam Serrano.
“We have recorded an increase in sales in our stores and on the Internet, and of course in China. Alaïa has only six stores – three in Paris and one in London. We have no outlets in New York, nor in many other big cities, by the way, ”she notes.
Myriam Serrano is looking forward to opening an Alaïa boutique in New York, where she has just hired two personal shoppers for handpicked clients, and in China, where she recruited a new sales manager last spring. The CEO of Alaïa emphasizes that Richemont has the financial means to invest to support the development of the company.
Myriam Serrano is determined to maintain Alaïa’s stature – hence the idea of presenting her new products this week, as part of haute couture.
“We have halved the number of our wholesale accounts – we had 140 partners. We only keep the best and the most prestigious,” she says, her mouth hidden behind a mask, like everyone else in the business. brand showroom.
But at the moment, she is mainly devoted to expanding the range of Editions, which summarizes the aesthetic universe of Azzedine Alaïa.
“Inside each piece, we can read the exact year and collection from which it comes. Some date from the 1990s,” she recalls, showing us the dated labels sewn onto the products.
Under the direction of Myriam Serrano, the house has also just launched La Petite Boutique: pieces carefully selected by the collector Anouschka from the previous Alaïa collections. Pieces available for insiders and friends of the house, sold on rue de Moussy – from pencil skirts in lambskin to ruby red jumpers, through embossed crocodile bags and impeccably cut woolen frock coats. This week, the brand also released its latest playlist, which is meant to be eclectic, ranging from Four Seasons from Vivaldi to “I giardini di Kensington” by Patty Pravo, a superb cover of “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed.
Alaïa’s CEO has also hired – discreetly – young talents to design the brand’s handbags, sunglasses and ready-to-wear collections.
“We are also considering recruiting a real creative director in the long term. Someone with a particular talent, who really respects Alaïa’s work, while showing discretion,” she explains.
Can we expect a real parade soon?
“Well, whatever happens, I think we will respect the traditions of the house, that is to say by parading out of season – like Azzedine would have done,” she replies with a laugh.
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