After the house of Balenciaga closed, we have Azzedine Alaïa to thank for saving a large number of archived dresses that were due to be unstitched or re-altered.
Alaïa, understanding the importance of the clothes, kept them safe. Now, some are being shown at the Azzedine Alaïa Gallery in the centre of town, in a beautiful venue that has a vast glass roof, a bookshop and a coffee shop…
Unexpectedly, the Azzedine Alaïa ‘Gallery’ is more like a decently-sized fashion museum. From the street, you first see a paved courtyard that resembles many others in the city, but upon entering you soon realise that this is quite a special place.
The courtyard, covered and heated in the winter, is uncovered for the summer. On your right you’ll find a bookshop, specialised in fashion, of course.
The gallery itself is a big, polyvalent space with a big glass roof and metal structure. Maps of France are painted on the walls, almost certainly a remnant of a previous use of the space.
During the current exhibition, it’s difficult to see the metal structure, but you get hints of it through the cream-coloured fabric overhead. We’re guessing that the emphasis is rather on the dresses, or perhaps that are delicate and cannot be exposed to sunlight.
Most of the dresses are black or made of dark-toned fabric (with a few exceptions) and they really are exquisite.
Upstairs is another room with a video presentation and archive photos of models wearing some of the dresses on show.
From this room, there’s also a good view of the main room’s structure, and you’ll see the Alaïa showroom while going up or down the stairs.
It’s a great space, and not very well-known. Seek it out for a great fashion experience – a fashion exhibition, fashion books and a fashionable café!