Every critic has his or her favorite. One of epic Times writer Cathy Horyn's is Azzedine Alaïa. Of all the negative things she has to say about clothing, she never seems to say anything bad about his. So when she gets the opportunity to do an entire profile on the man — who doesn't do much press, mind you — she gets pretty into it. Describing why a person is a good designer isn't easy, but here goes Horyn on Alaïa:
Even without the cold gleam of the first lady’s arms, it provoked the idea that a woman tends to look her most beautiful in clothes that make her look strong, not glamorous or sexy or powerful. There is a difference. Those with a vivid memory of Stephanie Seymour squatting in Richard Avedon’s 1994 portrait to plant a kiss on her favorite designer, her naked buttocks leaving her Alaïa chaps with the whooosh of an automobile in a snowbound slide, will surely debate the point that strength is the essential ingredient of an Alaïa.
And maybe so. Maybe the notion of strong-looking fashion, based on concrete methods and examples rather than abstractions and ironic statements, is dying, and there is nobody around with the grit and stamina to map the geography of a woman’s body, as he has done for last 45 years. Ballet has its technique and physical rigors. Painting has its schools. American music has its places of the heart, like the Delta; cookery, its ingredients and careful preparations. Fashion, though, gets its power and unanswerable logic from the female body, and, at roughly 70, Azzedine Alaïa is its undisputed master.
That was quite a mouthful. Poetic, one might say. But Horyn continues:
Mr. Alaïa would show you how to make the dress and shut up about the rest. Not talking about it is also a way to avoid a falseness — the falseness of thinking poetic language can be applied to dressmaking.
Most Viewed Stories
It’s Harder to Be Thin Than It Was in the ’80s
Why Do I Jerk Awake Right As I’m Falling Asleep?
From Up Close, Raf Simons’s Vision for Dior Is Clear
The World’s Easiest Way to Highlight Your Face
A Pregnant Supermodel Explains What She Eats
Meet the Prom Queen of Instagram
Michelle Obama: No Boy Is Cute Enough to Keep You From Getting an Education
Sleater-Kinney on Riot Grrl, Reuniting, and Portlandia
Selfie Sorority Uses Media Frenzy for Good Cause
Guess Who Renovated This Grand Upper West Side Penthouse
From Our Partners
The Art of Loving and Losing Female Friends
How Demi Lovato Embraced This Body “Problem” We All Have
How This Woman Lost 30 Pounds After Years of Ignoring Her Weight Gain
5 Must-Have Products for Your Makeup Bag
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesThe Retired Modeling Agent Who Loves Empire
“I started my own agency — we represented Twiggy — but went off to be assistant to the actor Yul Brynner, who was dating my roommate at the time.”Bright Coats for Cold Days
New York women in winter's least-boring outerwear, from bright-green alpaca fur to leopard-print mohair.Céline’s Woman-Friendly Triumph
Phoebe Philo remains in touch with what women want to wear.Watch the Akris Livestream
Enjoy!From Up Close, Raf Simons’s Vision for Dior Is Clear
And don't count John Galliano out at Margiela yet.5 Things I Want to Wear From Paris: Part 2
Cropped sweaters, a spangled skirt, and more.Jaden Smith and Kesha Partied This Week
Along with Cindy Crawford, Anjelica Huston, Rita Ora, and Lena Dunham.Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid Partied in Balmain
Plus: more highlights from Paris Fashion Week's parties, including Jared Leto.See All the Street Style From Paris Fashion Week
Featuring wooden platforms, velvet robes, and floor-length ponchos.Who Won Best-Dressed at Milan Fashion Week?
Another city, another people's choice Peacock.
Photographer Tomasz Lazar's latest dispatch from Fashion Month.Style Smackdown: Olivia Pope vs. Cookie Lyon
Judging the best looks from this week's episodes.Never Mind the Feminist Sound-Bites, Rick Owens Just Showed His Best Clothes Yet
Gymnast models symbolizing "women supporting women" wore mature yet spontaneous looks.Grace Jones Is Having the Wildest Book Tour Ever [NSFW]
She flashed crowds at her signing in New York.Tom Ford and Lady Gaga Turn the Runway Into a Disco
The designer is showing his newest collection in a video.All About Dior’s Spring 2016 Show
Rihanna, lavender walls, and pointy flats.Cecilia Dean on Her Latest Immersive Fashion Project
A downtown art event with DVF and Proenza Schouler.Dior Built a Huge Flower Wall for Its Show
Just breathe that in.The Selfie-Stick Fashion Generation
Today’s young designers focus too often on their feelings.Rick Owens Dressed Models in ... Other Models
Harnesses were involved.