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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa dies at the age of 77

The designer hadn’t released a new collection since 2011 until January of this year when Naomi Campbell made a surprise appearance at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week showing off his autumn/winter 2017 collection

Month of November. Azzedine Alaia has died at age 77 according to the French Haute Couture Federation. AFP
Month of November. Azzedine Alaia has died at age 77 according to the French Haute Couture Federation. AFP

The French-Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaïa has died in Paris at the age of 77. Born to wheat farmers in Tunis, Alaïa’s love of fashion was inspired by his glamorous twin sister, and through reading a family friend’s copies of Vogue as a youngster.

He lied about his age in order to attend the École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis and worked as a dressmaker in Tunisia before opting to move to Paris, where he initially worked under the guidance of Yves Saint Laurent at Christian Dior.

This appointment lasted only five days, however, due to Alaïa’s lack of correct papers at the outbreak of the Algerian War. He soon found alternative employment at Guy Laroche, where he worked for two seasons, and then onto Thierry Mugler. His private clients during this period included the likes of Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, and Greta Garbo.

In 1980, he produced his first ready-to-wear collection, which was championed by the then doyennes of fashion, Melka Tréanton of Depeche Mode and Nicole Crassat of French Elle, who both regularly featured his work in their respective magazines.

In the same year, the designer moved to larger premises in Paris and by 1988 Alaïa had also opened boutiques in Beverly Hills and New York. In 1984, Alaïa won the Best Designer of the Year and Best Collection of the Year at the Oscars de la Mode, where Amazonian singer Grace Jones carried him onstage in her arms.

Alaïa spent much of the nineties in partial retirement for personal reasons, then in 2000 signed a partnership with the Prada Group. He bought his brand back from the group in 2007 before entering an agreement with Richemont.

The designer’s work became more sporadic in recent years. He hadn’t released a new collection since 2011 until January of this year when Naomi Campbell made a surprise appearance at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week showing off his autumn/winter 2017 collection – Alaïa is widely credited with launching Campbell’s career when she was just 16-years old.

Tributes have begun to pour in on social media for the famed designer:

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