Azzedine Alaïa on Industry Pressures, Seasonless Fashion

Azzedine Alaïa
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 Azzedine Alaïa reveals what he thinks is wrong with the fashion world.

The designer, who marches to the beat of his own drummer, has spoken out about what he believes is wrong with the fashion industry—and the devastating results it can have.

While most fashion houses produce four (or more) collections per year, Alaïa designs and produces on his own schedule. “I refuse to work in a static rhythm,” he told The Business of Fashion. “Why should I sacrifice my creativity to that? That’s not fashion, that’s industrial work… And it’s a shame talents are being abused for this.”

Alaïa goes on to cite the talents that have recently been affected by the breakneck pace of fashion. “Look what has happened to John Galliano or this poor young guy from Balmain, who is now in a psychiatric hospital,” he said. “After five or six seasons, he was already broken. Or last year, McQueen—dead. And there are many more that are just so tired. There is a pressure that is mad.”

“Seasons are not what they used to be—we go skiing in the summer, swimming in winter,” he continued. “We don’t need to think in seasons anymore; we need to think about beautiful clothes. We really have to do something about this situation in fashion.”

The Tunisian designer is hands-on in his approach and throws the fashion calendar out the window. “I make every piece with my own hands,” he said. “If you do one beautiful skirt per season, that already is a miracle. If you do one manteau that women desire, you have won.”

Even though his goals are simple, Alaïa admits to being far from confident. “I am always in doubt; I am never sure of myself,” he said. “Even when you tell me I’m an influential designer—I don’t see myself like that. So I don’t like decorations. You know Sarkozy offered me the Légion d’honneur medal? I refused. People said I refused because I don’t like Sarkozy, but that’s ridiculous. I refused because I don’t like decorations—except on women. My dress on a woman—that’s a beautiful decoration.”

In related news, see what major job Azzedine Alaïa recently turned down here.