Some fashion exhibitions are so famous, everyone knows what you’re talking about as soon as you mention the designer. And then there’s fashion exhibitions that somehow stay under the radar and are real eye-openers once you set foot in them. AZZEDINE ALAÏA PETER LINDBERGH at the Fondation Azzedine Alaïa in Paris is one of those shows, that you won’t forget although you haven’t heard of much in advance. In the end I have to state: The collaboration of Alaïa and Lindbergh was a genuine revelation – and was is the show.
About the FONDATION
I entered the exhibition hall pretty innocently: I had three more hours left in Paris before returning to Vienna. I have to admit: I do like both Alaïa’s and Lindbergh’s work, but didn’t know much about them nor was I very passionate before my exhibition visit.
But I was pretty interested to visit the much acclaimed Fondation Alaïa! Established in 2007 by the designer himself, his partner Christophe von Weyhe and legendary publisher and gallerist Carla Sozzani, the Fondation organizes a diverse cultural program and of course exhibits the work of Alaïa and the works of art from his personal collection. This year they decided to focus on the life-long collaboration and friendship of Azzendine Alaïa and Peter Lindbergh, who worked together on many occasions throughout their long and successful careers.
BLACK: A common ground
Both have made their names throughout the 80s and 90s – two decades not really famous for their minimalist approach to fashion. Nevertheless both Alaïa and Lindbergh shared a great passion for Black. Black in all shapes, forms and shadows. In contrast to that there’s loads of white as well and thus each time a very elegant composition comes to life – no matter if we talk fashion or photography. The strict lines of Alaïa’s fashion are reflected in the sharp shapes of Lindbergh’s compositions – and vice versa.
Alaïa’s TIMELESS 80s
We all know the iconic pictures of Tina Turner or Grace Jones, wearing dream dresses of Alaïa, standing beside them. Their fierce attitudes together with the monumental dresses have cemented the designer’s reputation as THE 8os master of a cool version of power dress. Walking through the Fondation not only illustrates Alaïa’s vigorous designs of the era, it also shows how timeless his designs are. The mere lack of color of the exposed pieces makes you forget everything you might know about the 80s and liberates the pure style of the designer: Broad shoulders, architectural lines and fierce shapes celebrate the female (hourglass) body while representing an empowering armor for its wearers. But the dresses are not tacky or trashy nor are they overload with details. They are elegant and minimalistic in their design and therefore somehow more contemporary than ever. They are Fashion History, but also timeless at the same time.
Lindbergh’s CLASSIC aesthetic
Looking at the photos by Peter Lindbergh one is equally enthralled: One recognizes immediately some of his most famous motives and feels thrown back to the 80s. But at the same time you dive in into his timeless aesthetic language: The fabulous composition of blacks and whites, of casual as well as glamorous posing and the supermodel faces as well as classic fashion icons.
INTERWINING Alaïa and Lindbergh
The close and intense collaboration of fashion legends Alaïa and Lindbergh is very beautifully illustrated by the architecture of the exhibition space. As you walk through the main hall one couple after the other appears and reveals the fashion as well as its photo counterpart behind black and white walls. The outfits as well as photos appear and disappear one by one and work together as couples very well. As you stroll through the space your eyes meet the “close horizons” of Alaïa and Lindbergh – as the exhibition’s opening text frames it excellently.