Remember When Azzedine Alaïa Came to New York?

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The late, great Azzedine Alaïa is more than just a fashion icon, he’s a fashion legend. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people didn’t know his name, but in the early 1980s he was virtually unknown to many Americans. Of course, that all changed when a buyer from Bergdorf Goodman had a fateful run-in with famed French interior designer Andrée Putnam while she was wearing one of his leather coats. Suddenly, New Yorkers needed to know who the tesigner was, and he introduced himself to America in a pretty major way: by throwing one of the most lavish fashion shows the city had ever seen.

In 1985, thanks to an introduction from Putnam, the owners of the legendary nightclub Palladium offered their space to Alaïa, allowing him to put on a show to his exact specifications that also met his level of grandeur. According to coverage of the event, the designer tapped Jean-Paul Goude to design the set, which apparently cost ,000 alone. The total cost of the show was closer to 0,000, one third of which went to hiring the 52 models who walked the runway. Luckily, he was able to split the cost with Palladium’s owners, and he received a little extra production help from Barneys (which also began carrying his clothes).

But the most impressive figure was the number of people who showed up. One thousand, one hundred and eighty six guests were in attendance, including fabulous faces such as Andy Warhol, Joan Rivers, artist Keith Haring, and designers Stephen Sprouse and Giorgio Sant’Angelo, among many others. As per the dress code on the invitations, everyone wore all black.

The show was sensational, and was a major moment not only in Alaïa’s history, but in the history of New York fashion. As the state celebrates its anniversary of becoming part of the Untied States, we can’t help but look back on moments like this in wonderment of what New York (both the state and the city) have meant to American fashion.

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