It is difficult to come by images of Alaia's collections online (and, indeed, in most magazines too) which is a shame, but in a way it adds a further appeal to the work of the legendary designer. To put it bluntly, Alaia is just fantastic. He is one of those characters who gives me a sense of optimism about fashion. His fall/winter 2010 collection, shown as usual to a tiny select group of editors in his Paris complex (which includes an ultra-chic boutique hotel, where I dream about staying), is brilliant. Alaia really knows how to dress women respectfully, with a sharp, incredibly chic, minimal aesthetic, all with flawless craftsmanship. We hear so little about Alaia, yet he truly is one of the most skilled couturiers of our time.
From the current issue of Love magazine (given to me, not bought), I learnt some interesting facts about Alaia: he trained initially as a sculptor, and his process now is done almost entirely with his hands, with no recourse to drawing or 'mood boards.' He told the magazine that "I do not think about clothes or about “trends”. I just pick up the fabric and go to the girl and the ideas come." The feature also said that Alaia, who works with a small team, is involved personally at every stage in the physical production of his collections, and he even undertakes repairs to his pieces himself.
In the era of the mega-brands, with their myriad collections (women's, men's, haute-couture, r-t-w, resort/pre-fall, bags, shoes, sunglasses, watches...) overseen by designers who simply cannot have a say in (let alone actually have a hand in producing) most of the output, and when certain big luxury brands are outsourcing production to China (with some going to great lengths to conceal this fact), there is something incredibly refreshing and attractive about Alaia's approach. No vulgar publicity-grabbing, nor any compromise on quality, nor much conformity to the break-neck pace of fashion today, for Alaia: just an incredibly skilled designer quietly doing what he is best at.