Friday, 1 May 2020





Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of shade.
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley



Image courtesy of: Media Storehouse
(Mary Evans Picture Library)







Sunday, 12 April 2020

Miserere Mei, Deus, Secundum Magnam Misericordiam Tuam





(The Choir of Clare College)
Video courtesy of: Rudolf Neubock ~ YouTube






Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudeinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.

(Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness;
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.)


Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea:
et a peccato meo munda me.

(Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity:
and cleanse me from my sin.)


Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco,
et peccatum meum contra me est semper.

(For I acknowledge my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.)


Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci;
ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis,
et vincas cum judicaris.

(Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight;
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, 
and be clear when thou judgest.)


Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum:
et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.

(Behold, I was shapen in iniquity:
and in sin did my mother conceive me.)


Ecce enim, veritatem dilexisti;
incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.

(Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts;
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.)


Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor;
lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

(Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.)


Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam:
et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.

(Make me to hear joy and gladness:
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.)


Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis,
et omnes iniquitates meas dele.

(Avert thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.)


Cor mundum crea in me, Deus,
et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.

(Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.)


Ne projicias me a facie tua,
et spiritum sanctum ne auferas a me.

(Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy spirit from me.)


Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui,
et spiritu principali confirma me.

(Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with thy free Spirit.)


Docebo iniquos vias tuas,
et impii ad te convertentur.

(Then will I teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.)


Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus,
Deus salutis meae,
et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.

(Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.)


Domine, labia mea aperies,
et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

(O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.)


Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique;
holocaustis non delectaberis.

(For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it;
thou delightest not in burnt offering.)


Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus;
cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.

(The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
thou wilt not despise.)


Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion,
ut aedificentur muri Jerusalem.

(Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion, O Lord,
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.)


Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae,
oblationes et holocausta;
tunc imponent super altare tuum viulos.

(Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and oblations;
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.)

The Book of Psalms of David: Ch. 51, Vrs. 1-19






(The Choir of King's College)
Video courtesy of: mikatuu ~ YouTube









Wednesday, 18 March 2020

“Je Suis Couturier” | Azzedine Alaïa & The Evolution of Perfection





Azzedine Alaïa
Image courtesy of: REDEF | Alexander Fury






For the women he dressed, Alaïa wasn't about right here, right now. Timelessness is supremely seductive in its intangibility. Here was a designer who developed his aesthetic out of the public eye, getting to intimately know a handful of clients of all ages, shapes and sizes, from the moment he started to make clothes” ~ Tim Blanks






Time, it has been said, reveals all truth. Time, it can also be said, is the ultimate judge; it is only through the passage of time, for instance, that the true merit of an individual's work is made evident—or dispensed withwhether that be the work left behind by an architect, an artist, a sculptor, an engineer, a scientist, an inventor, a statesman, an intellectual, a writer, a composer, a performer, or a designer. More than unerring judge, time validates; time vindicates.


When we come to consider such a topic as that of fashion design—that most ephemeral of applied artsit is time's affirmation which undoubtedly separates authentic talent and abiding taste from sheer hype; the genuine couturier from nothing more than the stylist, the ‘confectioner’ or au courant trend-setter. That is unmistakably the case with an exhibition, held in January of 2018. Entitled Je Suis Couturier’ and held in lieu of a memorial service (the exhibition, like many of his collections, was presented at the couturier's Marais headquarters in the 4th arrondissement district at the Association Azzedine Alaïa, 18 rue de la Verriere)a mere couple of months past the death of Azzedine Alaïa—it spotlighted a selection of forty-one archival pieces (nearly all of which were in black and white, with the exception of one red bias-cut chiffon gown) of the late designer's oeuvre, with examples ranging through four decades from 1981 to his last couture collection, presented in July of 2017



Azzedine represents fashion at its purest. In his clothes, women feel beautiful, comfortable, admired. What more could we want?” ~ Carla Sozzani





Azzedine Alaïa & Naomi Campbell 
(Photo by Josh Olins)
Image courtesy of: tumblr | Arizona Semones





Alaïa's garments seem engineered rather than simply sewn; their fluctuating, distinctly physical relationship with the individual beneath them the real mark of his mastery of craft. They flare and wrap and grip and knead the human body, as if the flesh were clay ready to be sculpted. Like sculpture, they belong in a museum” ~ Alexander Fury





‘Timeless’ and ‘timely’ are adjectives most often applied to Alaïa and his decades-long output—and well-deserved, well-earned adjectives they are. ‘Timely’ because Alaïa's collections were conceived and created, like all creations, within the frame of their eras and are of their time; ‘timeless’ because Alaïa's work, especially when compared with that of other contemporary designers of the same periods and seasons, stands alone, transcending the eras in which they were created: time ultimately transcends mediocrity; it transcends the mundane. And subsequently, discerning designslike the names of their creatorsresonate, in whatever period of time in which they are considered.


To create something—anything—of substantial quality, something of genuine merit, requires time and Alaïa took his time to create his collections; there is nothing superfluous to be found in his creations. Alaïa was one of the most vociferous condemners of the exhausting modern fashion system of presenting multiple and even overlapping collections a year; instead, he presented his collections only when he felt ready to do so and when his collections were, he felt, complete. (The essential requirement of time is a concept which Alaïa fully understood: in all of his career, he only presented three haute couture collections, with years intervening each: 2003, 2011 and 2017.Adamantly refusing to abide by set fashion collection presentation schedules, Alaïa was notorious for unveiling his collections—and delivering order shipments—late, off-schedule, past (and out of sync with) the collections' seasons, thereby necessitating buyers, private customers and editors alike to travel back to Paris, chiefly for his showings. But no one complained; no one had reason to. Anyone privileged enough to attend one of Alaïa's collections—whether they be ready-to-wear or one of his three haute couture collections—was aware that what they were presented with was something unique and unlike any other collection; and those who were sensitive enough to the vagaries of fashion to realize it, recognized that Alaïa's work was the time-transcending work of genius—that presently oft-repeated, oft-tossed noun so misused.





“...his immediately identifiable clothes, though much copied, remain unlike anything else. He has been refining his chosen metier for more than half a century and is now universally respected—even revered—both by the women who love to wear his designs and by others of his profession, which, it goes without saying, is extremely rare” ~ Susannah Frankel





As with an earlier exhibit (as well as more recent and current Alaïa exhibitions) held at the Palais Galliera in 2014, Azzedine Alaïa: Je Suis Couturier’ (January to June 2018) was curated by Olivier Saillard (formerly the curator of Palais Galliera) and has the distinction of being the first posthumous Alaïa exhibition. The title of the show is a reference to Alaïa's refusal of the term ‘designer’—he was, from beginning to end, a couturier in the truest sense of the term and, undoubtedly, among the grandest. In regards to his craft, which he refined over a life-long career, Carla Sozzani, who knew Alaïa for forty years, put it succinctly: You could spend hours with him, with his ruler, pins, and patterns. (Quote: Isaac-Goize, T., Vogue)


In as many as there are those who refuse to designate fashion as a valid art form, there are those who adamantly believe it to be so; but on whatever side of the debate you may be, what is indisputable is the fact that fashion is, inevitably, a reflection of its time, depicting backmuch as a mirror doesthe disparate factors that constitute and define its times: ideological, political, social, ethical, cultural, economical, and artistic. In essence, there is much more to fashion than the clothes we choose to don and present ourselves to the world in. Very few designers have the longevity, much less possess the required talent, the dedication, the rigorous discipline or the skill necessary, to raise the craft—the metierof dressmaking to an art form; fewer still are those whose work can withstand the test (and authentication) of time. Years from now, when fashion historians look back to the last and first decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries respectively, they will undoubtedly cite not only the intrinsic talent of Azzedine Alaïa but will number him among the preeminent couturiers of our time.

(Sources: Diderich, J., Paris Retrospective Keeps Alaïa's Spirit Alive, WWD, January 20, 2018; Isaac-Goize, T., Inside ‘Je Suis Couturier,’ a 41 Dress Azzedine Alaïa Exhibition at His Marais HeadquartersJanuary 20, 2018, Vogue; Horyn, C., A Powerful Alaïa Exhibit Capture's the Designer's Spirit and Signals the Future of the Brand, The Cut, January, 2018)





Part geometer, part alchemist, Alaïa endeavors to tame material into behaving in a manner alien to its intrinsic nature: chiffon takes on heft, knits assume structure, leather softens to a fluid 
~ Amy Fine Collins








Image courtesy of: Journal du Luxe









The above eight images are all courtesy of: The Cut


The above two images are both courtesy of: Vogue


The above image is courtesy of: Pinterest






The above five images are all courtesy of: CR Fashion Book




Top image is courtesy of: ba-idane.over-blog
The two lower images above are courtesy of: I Prefer Paris


Image courtesy of: Pinterest





Video courtesy of: Fashion Network








Eschewing the fashion show calendar altogether, the forty decades of Alaïa's work shown here reveals no defining trends, only an increasing interest in the refinement of technique, a kind of reverse neoclassicist ethos that lends soft flesh and airy fabric the smooth, uncanny weightiness of sculpture” 
~ Christina Catherine Martinez





Image courtesy of: MFFashion





Azzedine was the last of them. In ten years, there will be a new one, but in the meantime he or she might as well start learning here. That would be a fine start” ~ Olivier Saillard









Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Une Autre Pensée Sur la Mode







Image courtesy of: Association Azzedine Alaïa
(Illustration by Thierry Perez)





With TATI I learned many things, another way to look at fashion Azzedine Alaïa





Image courtesy of: Vogue Paris
(Illustration by Thierry Perez)





Decades before it became prevalent (or even fashionable) for internationally-renowned couturiers (or celebrities) and mega-brands to partner with fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, Uniqlo, Puma or Adidas on limited-edition capsule collections, Azzedine Alaïa, the Tunisian-born and Paris-based couturier, presented a seminal collection for Spring-Summer 1991, based primarily on his collaboration with the Paris discount retailer TATI and its trademark pink-on-white gingham check pattern for decades, a magnet for bargain shoppers. 


But how did this collaboration (now known as The TATI Collection)—a prototype believed to have been the first of its kind and which has since become a common marketing tool—come about between Alaïa and the TATI department store (founded in post-war Paris, in 1948, with its enduring slogan, “TATI, le plus bas prix”)? And why would a world-acclaimed designer of Alaïa's calibre associate his name with a mass-market, low-budget clothing retail franchise? For one thing, Julian Schnabel, the artist and very close friend of Alaïa's, was the first to use the TATI canvas to paint on (“It happened,” Alaïa has said, “thanks to my friend Julian Schnabel, he wanted to make paintings with the vichy check fabric that was in fact the signature emblem of TATI”) and, early on in their friendship, Schnabel suggested to Alaïa that they ought to swap works: Alaïa would exchange dresses for Schnabel's works of art—a bartering of works that inspired both designer and artist alike. (When his first wife, Jacqueline Beaurang, opened an Alaïa boutique in New York's SoHo district, at 131 Mercer Street, in 1988, Schnabel had designed the interior of as well as the fixtures for the store; following their divorce and its closure in 1992, however, Schnabel retrieved the fixtures and are currently to be found in the Alaïa boutique in Paris.)
(Quote: Association Azzedine Alaïa, Press Release, Another Way To Look At Fashion: The TATI Collection)





The Kiss (TATI) by Julian Schnabel ~ 1989
Image courtesy of: CR Fashion Book





I thought the pattern was particularly recognizable as something Parisian and it was from certain popular neighborhoods where street life was alive and buoyant” ~ Julian Schnabel





Matra Nudem (TATI) by Julian Schnabel ~ 1989
Image courtesy of: Phillips





For another, the TATI gingham print (and its large blue logo) is ubiquitous, seen on its shopping bags in the hands of local Parisian bargain shoppers as well as travelers in and out of Paris. On his frequent trips to Tunisia, for instance, Alaïa would often “see travelers at Paris’ Orly airport with huge TATI bags, full to the brim. I wanted to design something of good quality for this clientele, who until now could not afford my clothes.” (Quote: Association Azzedine Alaïa, Press Release, Another Way To Look At Fashion: The TATI Collection) Realizing that the print and canvas would just as easily lend themselves to textiles and apparel, Alaïa took the initiative of contacting TATI with a proposition for a collaboration; TATI accepted, with the proviso that he design pieces exclusively for the company. It was at this point that, as (Paris) Vogue contributor Claire Beghin points out, that “luxury high fashion and high street collaborations were born. Its success was a pillar stone in the democratization of fashion.” (Quote: Beghin, C., Vogue Paris, July 8, 2019)





Image courtesy of: Pikdo
(Illustration by Thierry Perez)





What excited me was to attach my name, and the world of haute couture, with this brand that represented bargain clothing and bargain prices.” ~ Azzedine Alaïa





Both images above are courtesy of: Vogue Paris
(Illustrations by Thierry Perez)





The outcome of the TATI collaboration was Alaïa's Spring-Summer 1991 collection, with the TATI gingham—which made up at least half of the collection and which came in both reduced as well as magnified sizes—being the pivotal theme. Alaïa freely utilized and applied the TATI gingham (aside from its characteristic pink-and-white pattern, Alaïa introduced variations in black, navy-blue as well as red-on-white versions of the print) to assorted and all-inclusive separates: T-shirts, skirts (both long and short), slacks and shorts, long and short jackets, coats, bra-tops, dresses, bodysuits, and all of which were accessorized with matching gloves, taxi driver caps, belts, bags, espadrilles and sunglasses. (Incidentally, during his conversations and negotiations with TATI for the use of its gingham, Alaïa discovered that the founder of TATI—Jules Ouaki, a Sephardic jeweler from the La Goulette district of Tunis—was, like himself, Tunisian.)





Image courtesy of: Rich'Art
(Illustrations by Thierry Perez)





Nor did Alaïa confine the TATI gingham solely to cotton canvas/denim fabrics but, having been the peerless master of knits on which he had built his distinguished career (and his reputation as the ‘King of Cling), had it woven into knits, as well, to allow for stretch—and to achieve the famed Alaïa cling. (Additionally, Alaïa designed canvas shopping tote bags specifically for TATI with Alaïa Pour TATI’ printed on their front panels; these bags, along with the espadrilles and T-shirts, were made available and sold at TATI stores.) Moreover, it ought to be noted that Alaïa donated the income from the sales to a humanitarian cause.




 Image courtesy of: Vogue Paris
(Illustration by Thierry Perez)





There have been, in the past few years, several retrospective exhibitions devoted to the late Alaïa's work and legacy (which have always concentrated on the mastering of his craft rather than focusing on passing fads or fashion trends), who passed away unexpectedly in November of 2017, both during the couturier's lifetime and since his demise. Some have been staged in Paris, at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, while others were presented in other cities, such as London, Dusseldorf, Milan, Rome, New York, Groningen, Seoul and elsewhere.


Since its inception, creation and presentation nearly thirty yeas ago, The TATI Collection’ has grown in stature: it has not only become iconic but highly collectible; so much so, that an exhibition devoted entirely to it was recently on show. Curated by long-time Alaïa-associate/collaborator and fashion historian Olivier Saillard and held at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa (18 rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Paris), Another Way to Look at Fashion: The TATI Collection was recently on display from July 1st, 2019, till its closing on January 5th, 2020. (There are currently two exhibitions on view; these include: Azzedine Alaïa Collector: Alaïa and Balenciaga Sculptors of Shape, January 20th to June 28th, 2020, at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa and, in what is termed to be Alaïa's first posthumous U.S. exhibition, Alaïa-Adrain: Masters of Cut, presently in Atlanta at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion, from February 11th till September 13th, 2020, likewise curated by Olivier Saillard. Alaïa, who collected art as well as apparel and costumes of past eras, was also a collector of the works of Gilbert Adrian, the Hollywood costumer for MGM, alongside those of the great couturiers Madame Vionnet, Madame Grès, Charles James, and Balenciaga.)

(Sources: Collins, A. F., All Eyes on Alaïa, Vanity Fair, August 23, 2012; Association Azzedine Alaïa, Press Release, Another Way To Look At Fashion: The TATI Collection; Wynne, A., Exhibition  on Azzedine Alaïa's Tait Collection Debuts in Paris, WWD, June 30, 2019; Beghin, C., Vogue Paris, July 8, 2019; Robinson, R., CR Fashion Book, July 5, 2019)





Christy Turlington photographed by Patrick Demarchelier ~ 1991
Image courtesy of: Maison Alaïa



Naomi Campbell photographed in Los Angeles by Ellen von Unwerth ~ 1991
Both images above are courtesy of: Vogue Paris



Yasmeen Ghauri photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue (Italia) ~ 1991
Image courtesy of: Pinterest





There is a message in this collaboration. He could make anything he wanted out of any textile. If he had no fabric, he could take the tablecloth and make a beautiful dress” 
~ Olivier Saillard





Image courtesy of: Madame Figaro
(Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard)



Image courtesy of: Paris Diary by Laure



 





The above left image is courtesy of:  Paris Par Amour | The above right image is courtesy of: Maison Alaïa  



Image courtesy of: Rich'Art







The above four images are courtesy of: Marion de Castilla