Alaïa and Balenciaga – Sculptors of shape

September 28, 2020
Carla Sozzani ©Sylvie Delpech

Carla Sozzani began her editorial career working on magazines that ranged from couture to cuisine. In 1979 she became Editor in Chief for all Vogue Italia’s special issues. Then she became the editor in chief for the launch of the Italian edition of Elle. In 1991, Sozzani opened “10 Corso Como”, a fashion and design store, as well as expanding the bookstore and adding a café, Sozzani “slow shopping” experience built the template of what has been defined since then as “the first concept store”. In 2016, Sozzani established the Fondazione Sozzani dedicated to the promotion of culture through photography, fashion, the fine arts and applied arts. Close friend of Azzedine Alaïa, she became president of the Foundation Azzedine Alaïa in 2017. The Foundation presents “Alaïa and Balenciaga – Sculptors of shape” in its headquarters in Paris until January 3 2021.

Since Monsieur Alaïa passed away, you are the president of Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. What is the purpose of the Foundation?
For many years Azzedine wanted to create his Foundation of public interest, his vision was very clear, he wanted to protect his own work but also the large collection of the great masters of fashion he had been collecting all the long of his life. 
He wanted to share those treasures with the young and future generations. The Foundation is following his will, has the purpose to present exhibitions of his own work and also in parallel with the masters he loved and respected ; have educational programs in the fields of fashion and design. Important for the Foundation is to be able to help the young designers who want to learn the crafts of tailoring, Azzedine learned all his life to reach perfection, this transmission of artisanal skill is at the heart of the programs.

You present a new set of the « Alaïa and Balenciaga, Sculptors of shape » exhibition in Paris. What are the points in common of these two masters ?
The points in common, are many, the  restless search of perfection in the cut, in the shape. The ambition to be the best, not for money or glory, but for their work. There is something pure and almost religious in their approach to integrity before anything. 
They both worked in solitude, they both were constanly searching innovation. They both wanted to make women beautiful with respect. When Hubert de Givenchy came to the Foundation, just few weeks after Azzedine had passed away, saying he had a dream, to make an exhibition of Balenciaga and Alaïa together, he said there were only two masters. It was a touchy moment, we all know what Balenciaga meant to Givenchy.

Monsieur Alaïa was an avid collection. What was his relationship with his collection ?
He was an avid collector, starting in 1968 with his first Balenciagas and then  he collected all his life. He would go to auctions, would bid through friends, he  wouldn’t give up and he was often bidding against museums. His passion for collecting the famous and  the forgotten masters of couture from the past and of the present was driven by his admiration for their work. He was fascinated by the creativity and by the perfection of the techniques, in a way he wanted to own in order to protect the treasures of fashion and couture.

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