five, like, totally important alaïa moments in pop culture

As the elusive icon launches his first fragrance, we round up five fashion-tastic pop culture moments celebrating Cher Horowitz and Grace Jones' favorite designer.

by Emily Manning and i-D Staff
22 May 2015, 5:10pm

Photography Sølve Sundsbø

Azzedine Alaïa has never played by fashion's rules. The impish designer doesn't follow any kind of fashion week schedule, leaving years-long gaps between collections and staging intimate shows in his studio after PFW ends and all the editors have gone home. He reportedly turned down a Dior offer following John Galliano's ousting, and definitely refused France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur medal.

So it shouldn't be shocking that after 30 years in the game, he's only now released his first fragrance, something that—as Vanessa Friedman noted in her New York Times announcement of the news—"other designers and celebrities generally consider a de rigueur early part of the brand-building process." Britney Spears should know, she has 17.

Yet despite Azzedine's position outside the fashion establishment, he has continually captured the public's imagination over the past three decades. To celebrate the news of the fragrance (which is based on "the smell of cold water falling on hot chalk"), we've rounded up our favorite Alaïa moments in pop culture, from the mugging that left Cher Horowitz totally buggin' to The Daily Mail mistaking him for a 'local.'

An a-whata?: Having been ditched in the Circus Liquors parking lot and left to fend for herself in the totally tragic Valley (ugh, as if!) Clueless' teen queen Cher Horowitz is held up at gunpoint. She hands over a Flinstone-era cellphone and bag without issue, but when the mugger— clearly illiterate in sculptural French fashion— insists she get on the ground, she's not having it. While Calvin Klein gets a hilarious shout out earlier in the film, Cher's unflinching commitment to a like, totally important designer has lived on as one of the film's most major moments.

Heeeeere's Grace!: Grace Jones didn't just play the role of May Day, a supervillain in Roger Moore's final James Bond film, A View to Kill — she free dove off the goddamned Eiffel Tower in an Alaïa catsuit. The Jamaican singer has long been an Alaïa client and friend, even carrying him on stage when he won the Best Designer of the Year and Best Collection of the Year awards at the French Ministry of Culture's 1984 Oscars de la Mode. Check out all of May Day's most major Alaïa moments, as well as a few runway looks that are "just dandy," in this amazingly 80s spotlight on Azzedine.

The Daily Mail mistakes him as a 'local': Last year, the The Daily Mail reported on the fanfare Naomi Campbell caused upon returning to her South London digs to stroll through Brixton market. The gossip rag doesn't exactly boast an all-star track record when it comes to nailing facts, but as Independent fashion editor Alexander Fury pointed out on Twitter, the paper made the ultimate fashion gaf when it identified Alaïa as one of the 'locals.'

Ellen von Unwerth's intimate portrait: Maybe the Mail should have watched this Ellen von Unwerth-lensed film documenting the designer's fitting with Campbell before chucking him in with Brixton's local squad. The intimate short opens with a young Naomi gazing listlessly as Alaïa fits her in a lace bodysuit. She's later joined by a chain-smoking Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and briefly, Bruce Weber.

Naming his dog his sole heir on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous unmasked all the designer's champagne wishes and caviar dreams. It's pretty trippy to hear Robin Leach's trademark snobbish inflection describing a designer who's always refused to sell out, but you've gotta admit, it's lols all the same. Some other highlights of the segment include a peek inside the designer's Paris loft; the fact he's named Patapouf, his Yorkshire Terrier, the sole heir to his fortune, and this pearl of wisdom: "I only want just enough money to buy the most expensive thing: freedom."


Text Emily Manning
Photography Sølve Sundsbø
Fashion Director Charlotte Stockdale

Photography assistance Myro Wulff, Hannah Burton, Moritz Kerkmann, Mathieu Boutang
Retouching Digital Light Ltd
Production Therese Lundstrom at Brachfeld Paris

Grace Jones
lifestyles of the rich and famous
Azzedine Alaia
Ellen von Unwerth
Cher Horowitz
azzedine alia