Remembering Azzedine Alaïa in pop culture

Remembering Azzedine Alaïa in pop culture

"An A-what ah?"

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Getty Images

Azzedine Alaïa was the King of Cling who dressed iconic women on screen, from a villainous Bond girl to a Clueless high school chick

The French-Tunisian fashion designer who defined sex appeal in the '80s and remained relevant till today has passed on at the age of 77. With dresses that nipped at the waist and clung to every delectable curve of a woman's body, Alaïa celebrated the feminine form and dressed those who were unabashedly female — in the most diverse sense of the word. The designer was also immortalised in pop culture, with each decade — '80s, '90s and '00s — paying an homage to him on screen.

1. Alicia Silverstone in Clueless
Even at gunpoint, Cher Horowitz was thinking of fashion first in Clueless. The 1995 coming-of-age cult film had many a memorable fashion moments (remember "What the hell is that? A dress. Says who? Calvin Klein!"), but the scene with Silverstone as Cher getting robbed was plain hilarious. According to costume designer Mona May, she had to "make so many calls" to get that Azzedine Alaïa dress. "My budget wasn't huge, and Alaïa was very generous with the pieces — he was such a collaborative designer," she said in an interview.

2. Grace Jones in A View to a Kill
Grace Jones is a force to be reckoned with, with the world falling head over heels when it chanced upon this strong villain, May Day, in the 1985 James Bond film, A View To a Kill. Alaïa designed most of Jones' May Day costumes, including the iconic fit-and-flare purple dress with cut-outs along one thigh. Showing off her superhuman strength by carrying a suited man over her head, Jones sported a black, leather jacket that defined power dressing, with Alaïa's play on volume and form. With his designs, the designer embodied May Day for the many labels she wore: Hyper-masculine, androgynous, dangerous and sexual.

Grace Jones

3. Michelle Obama as FLOTUS
Lets face it, every FLOTUS becomes a pop culture icon from the moment her first entrance into the public eye is scrutinised. Alaïa has dressed many pop culture icons in the past, from Madonna and Lady Gaga to Rihanna and Mariah Carey. Michelle Obama's likening to Alaïa isn't entirely unsurprising. He's one of her favourite designers to wear apart from Thakoon and Jason Wu, and if there's one thread that binds them all, it's their dedication to fierce femininity. The former first lady courted controversy and criticised for wearing an Alaïa cardigan over a sleeveless Isabel Toledo dress during her first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. The late Oscar de la Renta even notoriously lamented, "You don't... go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater". Well, if you had to pick out a cardigan, make it an Alaïa.

Michelle Obama