Fashion's faithful may all worship in different temples–but most make a pilgrimage, sooner or later, to the altar of Azzedine Alaïa. In the larger context of "designer fashion," Alaïa is an anomaly: he ignores trends, turns away retailers who rub him the wrong way and shows (and ships) collections according to his own idiosyncratic schedule. Which at least partially explains why, on Sunday, October 10–several days after most of the fashion flock had left Paris–Alaïa sent his models down his runway for the benefit of a favored few.
Women worship Azzedine Alaïa because Alaïa worships women–it's that simple. Few designers understand a woman's curves better than this nimble Tunisian, which has kept him in demand for 30 years. What did Stephanie Seymour wear to marry Peter Brant in 1995? A clingy white Alaïa gown literally sewn onto her by the designer. What did Naomi Campbell don for her recent court appearance in The Hague? A prim-yet-sexy cream Alaïa dress with a matching cardigan. And what have supermodels, socialites and other beauties been clamoring for since 1980? Alaïa, Alaïa and more Alaïa.
Sunday's show offered classics (like the slinky white column, above left), but some twists, too–namely, ballerina-like silhouettes pairing fitted tops with short, full skirts (imagine Dégas' Little Dancer as Daria and you'll have the idea). Alaïa is no stranger to full skirts, but this was a slight departure–the flare he gives to a skirt has typically sprung from the hip rather than this season's waist. It's a great look, but you've got to have the figure–and, more importantly, the legs–to carry it off. Fashion's gods are many things, but they're not forgiving.