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Azzedine Alaia: Models, Rock Stars and Curry

Azzedine Alaia: Models, Rock Stars and Curry

I’m taking you on a trip back to the 80s and 90s, before Instagram, before social media, before cell phones! There were no Kardashians, the red carpet wasn’t the fashion show it is today, and MTV was new (and played videos, usually my friends Duran Duran). The only information you could access about fashion was through the fashion bibles of the time: British, Italian and U.S. Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.

 


It was pre 'Freedom 90', so the supermodel phenom hadn’t peaked just yet. We were a group of young models from around the globe gathered together in a Paris atelier to do a show for a buzzy new Tunisian designer by the name of Azzedine Alaia.

He wasn’t yet dressing famous actresses and First Ladies like Michelle Obama, he was new and starting out in the fashion world. I first met Azzedine at his Atelier in Paris and soon after I was immediately hooked! Though tiny, he was bursting with talent.

He was cutting-edge, innovative, and quite the opposite of the over the top designs that were popular at the time. His clothing was and still is timeless. It’s no wonder that he immediately became a favorite of all the girls, or “Supers”, as they’re widely known today. 

When show season would kick off in Paris, we would camp out at his Atelier on Rue de Bellchasse and do five shows for three days. We were a model squad before the term became popular: Cindy, Yassy, Linda, Christy, Naomi, Marpessa, Stephanie, Tatjana, and every other worldly beauty would dominate the catwalk captivating the audience and driving the photographers mad with excitement.

Each design celebrated, every girl more stunning than the next. Azzedine couldn’t afford to pay us, so we would do his shows for free and he would pay us in clothes. In retrospect, it was a smart move. All of us were photographed wearing Azzedine (off duty) and soon it became the model uniform which editors and fashionistas quickly wanted to emulate.

Fashion week was always a hectic time and so it was impossible to slow down and eat proper meals (and champagne could only sustain us for so long). But gathering together for a meal was an important ritual to Azzedine and he would arrange wonderful meals for his girls. His Tunisian chef would whip up a delicious curry lunch and we would gather in his basement chatting with magazine editors, rock stars, stylists, artists, photographers and anybody else in town for the shows.

There was no fear of something showing up on social media, so we all let our guard down and could speak freely. I could write a book and call it "Models, Rock Stars and Curry" to share many stories about when we gathered together, kicked our (Chanel) feet up, and had a lovely meal. He took care of us like family. And family we became.

 



Our lives were always hectic, we didn’t know when we would see each other again as we were commuting across the pond on the Concorde to do a shoot in New York the next day, so we savored that time at Azzedine’s atelier. It was our quiet time in the fashion storm and through those experiences we were able to bond and create deep friendships that we still have today. Azzendine’s atelier grew and so did our careers, but we continued to go back and do his shows. He was family, we were a family. We were a squad.

 

Comments on this post (8)

  • Apr 06, 2020

    Thank you SO MUCH for these post! This era was everything to me and I recognize 99% of the models/your friends and know them by first name. Please keep them coming! Take care

    — Cole

  • Apr 06, 2020

    Loved reading about your experiences as a model. It certainly was a different time back then. Loved seeing the old photos too!

    — Charis James

  • Apr 06, 2020

    Love these stories xxx

    — Kate

  • Apr 07, 2020

    Love these stories xxx

    — Kate

  • Apr 06, 2020

    I was a teenager in the 90’s and I loved and breathed fashion and the models of that time. Such a wonderful and exciting time, so much beauty. I remember reading about your wedding, loved your wedding dress and shoes and how your bridesmaids wore your slip dresses, that’s when I first loved a slip for a dress! I read every magazine, Anything to do with fashion and the girls. Learnt about make up and hair all before it Became the thing that teenagers do.
    Keep the stories coming.
    Elisa

    — Elisa

  • Apr 06, 2020

    I love your heart warming story of fashion and friendships through good and bad times. Even though I love getting the latest news as fast as possible through technology and social media. I grew up waiting for the next new fashionable Duran Duran and George Michaels music videos. I still want my old MTV back. Vouge, Elle’s Hapers magazine were the source and guide to fashion. You ladies were and still my guidance to classy timeless beauty. Of course how can anyone forget Azzedine Alaia, Versace, Galliano, Lagerfeld, Gaultier, Mugler and many more designers that influenced us then and now. Thank you, please continue sharing, love your clothing line and stay safe.

    — Xenia Anduray

  • Apr 06, 2020

    Such vibrant images and story x please make a book about this time x Karin

    — Karin Sharpe

  • Apr 06, 2020

    More of these stories! Love them and… Miss Azzedine and more of those amazing, free and artistic days…

    — Jo Champa

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