Azzedine Alaia was born in Tunis, Tunisia in 1940, inspired by his twin sister love of glamour, so began his love for couture. His creativity was further influenced a French friend of his mother's who gave him copies of Vogue and aided in his acceptance into the local Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tunis, where he studied sculpture, which allowed to gain valuable insights into the human form.
Upon graduating, Alaia began working as an assistant to a dressmaker and soon began dressing private clients. In 1957 he moved to Paris to work in fashion design, where he worked for Guy Laroche for two seasons, then for Thierry Mugler until he opened his first atelier in his tiny rue de Bellechase apartment the late 1970s. By 1980 he had revealed his first ready-to-wear collection, moved to bigger location in rue du Parc-Royal in the Marais, and was named Best Designer of the Year by the French Ministry of Culture.
In 1983 he brought his designs state side and began selling them in New York and in Beverly Hills, and by 1988 he had opened boutiques in Beverly Hills, New York, and Paris. His seductive, clinging clothes were a massive success, and he was dubbed by the media 'The King of Cling'. Devotees included both fashion-inclined celebrities and fashionistas: Tina Turner, Raquel Welch, Madonna, Brigitte Nielsen, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Carine Roitfeld and Carla Sozzani.
In the mid-1990s, Alaia virtually vanished from the fashion scene, but continued to cater for a private clientele and to enjoy commercial success with his ready-to-wear lines, showcasing his collections in his own space, in the heart of le Marais, where he established his creative workshop, showroom and boutique all under one roof.
He then signed a partnership with the Prada group in 2000, the same year as his solo exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York, which initially had been launched and curated at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands by Mark Wilson and Jim Cook in 1997. Since beginning working with Prada he has seen a remarkable revitalization, and in July 2007 he successfully bought back his house and brand name from the Prada group, though his footwear and leather goods division continues to be developed and produced by the group.
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