Monday 5th July

| BY Suzy Menkes

ALAÏA: Couture AW21

Team 10 couldn’t be at Pieter Mulier’s debut show for Alaïa but legendary scribe Suzy Menkes was there. The leading fashion authority gives us her verdict:

After Alaïa: A New Broom Sweeps His World

Pieter Mulier steps away from Raf Simons to create his own fashion world.

The street was narrow with a thin line of rain-splashed chairs. But this was not any old Paris road. Rue de Moussy leads to the ancestral home of Azzedine Alaïa – the designer dubbed “King of Cling” who passed away in  2017.  This was the debut of Pieter Mulier – a humble successor who was stepping out from 20 years working in the shadow of fellow Belgian designer Raf Simons.

“I think, without being pretentious, that it is diehard Alaia to explain it to this generation- it became a little distant, more gallery and museum – I would like to make it democratic again,” said Pieter Mulier after a modest show, respectful to the founder, but with the potential to move fast forward on this hallowed territory.

The story was of bodies in bold movement – sporty and strong dresses climbing thigh-high or more likely long and slim. From stretch shorts to narrow, ankle-length dresses, the message was of women in charge – less playful than Alaia’s work, but faithful to the founder. White dominated the colours, but the deep blue of a midday sun in North African, Alaia’s birthplace, sung out, along with bright red. But the art was in the details of lines of silvered decoration and the loose cut of coats that swung purposefully down the runway. 

“That is why we literally brought the show into the street with the lines very pure – a simple sweater, hybrid transparent leggings, traditional Tunisian pieces,” explained the designer. “I wanted sports which were zero opposite of sports – iconic Alaïa”. Those words translated as outfits very faithful to the originator – but with the potential of moving in a young, strong, modern direction.

“It’s crazy – I am more nervous now than for my own shows,” said Raf Simons of his protege. Friends and family in the audience, included Azzedine’s life partner Christoph Von Weyhe and Mulier’s mother who said she had followed her son through Raf’s changing role from Jil Sander, Christian Dior to Calvin Klein and finally Prada.

Mulier has now stepped out of the shadows – with potential to grow Alaia into a 21st-century icon.  

Photography courtesy of Alaïa.