During the fall shows in Paris in January, Alaïa’s creative director Pieter Mulier sent out six form-fitting, showstopper dresses toward the end of his sleek second runway outing.
The retail partnership is part of Gagosian’s new fashion and art initiative, which invites fashion brands with artist-inspired wares to offer them via the gallery’s shops. The first iteration was the Paris jeweler Repossi’s Robert Mapplethore-inspired collection, released in New York in May, followed by Alaïa-Picasso in June, before the dresses were shipped off to London. Each mini collection is paired with shoppable rare books and ephemera to round out the theme: For example, in London, the Picasso dresses ($6,500 and $11,500) are accentuated with a 1948 Cahiers d’Art issue devoted to the Spanish master and the two-volume Ceramics by Picasso for $3,000.
Picasso and Alaïa have actually been intertwined for years. The house’s namesake founder, Azzedine (who died at 82 years old in 2017), was a “sculptor of shape,” wielding couture techniques and cutting-edge fabrics. His knits flowed like mercury and embraced every curve of the body. Before embarking upon fashion, Alaîa studied sculpting at the École des Beaux-Arts in his native Tunisia (he lied about his age in order to enroll). The visionary designer amassed a vast collection of haute couture and art, now preserved in Paris by the Foundation Azzedine Alaia.
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