The Design Museum is currently showing a collection by couturier Azzedine Alaïa, best known for his sculpted, sexual and tight-fitting dresses.

The exhibition was co-curated with Mark Wilson by Alaïa himself prior to his death in November 2017. It groups his creations into 12 themes, but it reveals the endlessly creative scope of Alaïa’s devotion to women.

The diminutive designer made his own rules. He blurred haute couture and ready to wear, and used both ancient and state-of-the-art techniques. He boldly subverted materials: in his expert hands, chiffon becomes hard and sexy, while leather softens into something delicate and tender.

There is boundless creativity, but exquisitely rarified. Nothing is superfluous. Every dress is a model of sensual economy, playfully combining strength and fragility.

The collection is a fitting tribute to Alaïa, whose life was a tribute to women. It is a must-see for fashion devotees, but also a fantastic initiation for the neophyte.

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier runs until 7 October 2018.

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