Yesterday, on the street outside the Alaïa ateliers on Rue de Moussy, in Paris, Alaïa's new creative director, Pieter Mulier made his debut for the iconic House, as the unofficial launch to Paris couture week. Four years since Azzedine Alaïa's passing, his predecessor, Mulier - who served as Raf Simons right-hand man through his days at Jil Sander, Christian Dior and Calvin Klein - has debuted a collection that feels decidedly true to the House's DNA.
“It’s about taking care of the DNA of the brand and explaining it differently for a new generation who aren’t familiar with his work,” explained Pieter in a preview, “I wanted to bring the energy back into the house, most of all for the people who are working here.” If there's one thing that is clear from his debut SS22 collection, is that he has not only presented a collection with expertly interpreted codes of Azzedine Alaïa's legacy, but that the brand is in hands which both understands the legacy, and more importantly, treasures it, too.
"Dear Azzedine," Mulier wrote in the show notes of the collection, "This collection is intended as a tribute to thank you... Four years after your final presentation… I feel honored to be presenting this collection. I tried to be faithful to your creative approach. I even tried to get into your mind... but that's impossible. 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… You were a sculptor, a genius of the hand. Your fashion had a heart and a rare intelligence — a combination of precision, modernity and poetry.
Thank you for your humor, your smile has never left this place. Thank you for your visions that have crossed the years and help me today to celebrate the free beauty of women. Thank you for everything we share: the taste for art, music, the pleasure of fine food - these absolutes that help us invent a new way to do fashion... I wish to live up to your standards. I will take care of your house and your family with a tremendous sense of admiration and responsibility. It's a dream come true to build the future of this legendary house.
Thank you with all my heart, Love, Pieter" He said.
It was all silhouette. A far cry from the heavily embroidered tulle's of so many couture collections, a nod true to Alaïa's motifs. First came tailoring a quiet, precise entrance to the debut, belted at the waist with robust, thrice buckled bodices and flowing hem lines, form and function serving as the launch pad for the collection. Them came the body-con dresses, the ‘King of Cling’ silhouettes the house is so notorious for. Shapes that hug each curve, detailed with trace-like perforations mapping curvature, leaving everything, and nothing to the imagination. Some secured with clingy hoods, bringing it into balance from the risk of being overtly sexy.
Created by some of the most skilled makers in the country, Mulier showed larger than life shearling coats, the 'Big-Bird meets glamour' kind of big, and hemmed impossibly lengthy, skin-tight skirts with shearling tails. Hoods were donned alongside stretchy wools, silks and Japanese denims, giving it all an air of mystery and elevation. There was netting, mesh, tassels and leopard, all executed with staggering detail.
What is glaringly obvious, in a single glance at the collection, was that Mulier's debut was a tribute, instead of a reimagining. Bringing codes of the house forward, into the future, with the care and respect that one could only pray would be embodied when at the helm of a house with such rich, vital history. Mulier has arrived, and Alaïa makes a triumphant return.
Watch the full Alaïa SS22 couture show, below.
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