Most of Mr. Alaïa’s 70 iconic designs exhibited are set up permitting the eye to enjoy the front, back and sides of the creation, just like a sculpture. On a couple of styles, I guessed at who might have worn the piece. Looking at the exhibit label, my guesses on at least two proved correct: Grace Jones (hoods) and Tina Turner (fringe). Do I date myself with this ‘who wore what and when’ information knowing that Mr. Alaïa was “revealed to the public in 1981”?
In the Salle Matisse across the road, are three dresses specifically designed for this exhibition. They are contrasted with Matisse figures. The sculpted velvet knit dresses with flares seem to have stepped out of and/or jumped up into the paintings of Matisse’s “La Danse or Lutte des Nymphes” (1931), “La Danse inachevée” (1931-33) and Daniel Buren’s “Murs de peintures” (1995).
To wear his shapes, I believe you must give up eating bread! The dresses adapt to a woman’s curves. Curves that are perfect on the transparent, floating mannequins. The description of using the “art of the cut” is given to this look. Alaïa created other styles that floated into the mainstream of everyday wear.
Do you wear leggings or have you worn leggings? Alaïa was the first to introduce them to us in 1992. Supple leather that looks sensual? Alaïa vintage 1979… Who introduced the fashion elements of eyelets, winding zippers, and stretch boiled knit, or the models Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Veronica Webb, etc.? Alaïa.
At the exhibit, you find out that Alaïa belongs to the group of couturiers from Madeleine Vionnet to Cristóbal Balenciago, mastering all the stages of design and making a dress. These are the architects of cut. “With Madame Grès, he shares a singular form of training: the disciplined practice of sculpture.”
“I make clothes, women make fashion,” he says. Based on what is and has been in my closet, Alaïa also makes fashion history.
What You Will Experience
Let your eyes be your memory because no photos are allowed. The room summaries and exhibit labels are in English and French. The swallow-tailed jacket of wool cloth and crocodile S/S 2003 featured on the exhibition’s poster is found in the Salle Matisse.
10 avenue Pierre Ier de Serbie 75116 Paris – Tél : 01 56 52 86 00
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Late Thursday until 9 p.m.
Closed Monday and Holidays
Metros: Iéna ou Alma-Marceau (line 9), Boissière (line 6) / RER C Pont de l’Alma
Bus 32, 63, 72, 80, 82, 92
Musée de l’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art) in the Matisse room
11, avenue du Président Wilson – 75116 Paris
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m./Closed Holidays
Ouvert du mardi au dimanche de 10h à 18h, sauf jours fériés – Closed Mondays and public holidays : January 1, March 31, May 1, May 8, May 9, May 19, July 14, August 15, November 1, November 11, December 25
Late Thursday until 9 p.m.
Metro: Alma-Marceau or Iéna
RER station: Pont de l’Alma (line C)
Bus lines: 32/42/63/72/80/92
Admission free to permanent exhibits (and Alaïa)
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