Letter to Azzedine Alaïa
We had just turned 18 when we met Monsieur Alaïa for the first time. He was a friend and a master. A tribute. – Didier Cometti and Angelo Buonomo
We never told you, but when we were ten years old, we used to protect our school notebooks with fashion magazine covers featuring your designs. Was it a kind of intuition of this future relationship, made of friendship, benevolence and this protective spirit that you have always shown towards us?
It was the 80s, fashion was in full revolution: in our eyes it was at its peak. There was you, of course, whom we held in high esteem, and then Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier. In our eyes you represented the absolute dream. An untouchable world seen from Basel where we grew up.
The idea of working in fashion instilled itself in us, little by little, until it became obvious, or rather urgent. At 16 we left. Direction: Paris. Paris, for two fashion-crazy teenagers, at the time, was the promised land.
We started as photo assistants and two years after our arrival we finally met you!
It was raining hard that day. Your address was still rue du Parc-Royal. We can’t find the words to express the emotion we felt at the idea of being in your presence, of touching your creations. No one else knows how to emphasize the curves of the woman’s body: your lines are so sexy, fluid, like a second skin. Dresses that protect, that give strength to all those who wear them. Perfection in the finishing touches. We saw you while choosing the dresses for the photo shoot we were to do with Grace Jones.
When we arrived at the studio, we saw for the first time, understood the magic of your dresses. No sooner had she put on one of them than Grace Jones felt like the strongest and most beautiful woman in the world! Your creations fascinated us. That day, we became enthusiasts.
Since we met, we have very rarely done photo shoots without you, well, without your creations: no other designer creates, directs, cuts, touches, and iron-moulds his own model from start to finish. This is unique in the fashion world. You touch up and adjust until the end, until the show, until the shoot.
We always felt privileged to attend your fashion shows, watching your models being worn by the most beautiful girls in the world, because they all came to you. And we were so proud of you the day you bought the building on rue de la Verrerie, then the one on rue de Moussy, creator of your own empire!
Thanks to you, we learned to make clothes, like two self-taught people who never took a course in cutting, sewing or style. But our curiosity and your example helped us understand how a garment was made.
When we decided to launch our own brand Didier & Angelo, in 1993, our biggest fear was to lose you, to lose your confidence above all. We talked to you about it. You said: “I want to see your designs!
So one day we arrived at your place with our book under our arm. Those who know you know that you’re mischievous. You decided to play a guessing game: “I’ll try to guess who did what”, you said. We were relieved: since that day, our friendship has intensified. And so did our respect.
You gave us advice and always said: “Stay as you are, true to yourself, and make small collections: if you have a good idea, it’s already a lot!
You always presided over the choices we made to dress our models or the celebrities we worked with. The day we arrived at the studio with supermodel Iman, you told us: “Come and take what you want as always”. That was the time when you had created those incredible leather push-up bras.
Finally we left with You and your most beautiful creations, including a long gazar dress from the haute couture collection entirely embroidered with gold thread with crinoline. You hadn’t finished it yet, it was hidden under a big white sheet, but you absolutely wanted to try it on Iman. We had fun dressing her together (see photo below).
Years later, this same dress was exhibited in the Matisse room of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, where some of your works were shown alongside the exhibition dedicated to you by the Galliéra Museum in Paris.
When we decided to take photographs to do our own shoots, you trusted us and encouraged us. You were always there, in front of us, beside us, behind us, gently pushing us forward, believing, always believing, and never giving up.
You were a prankster and loved to hide to scare us. Together we spent a lot of time talking about the job, because it is our life too. But without any complexes, or the need to philosophise or intellectualise fashion. It was always a simple sharing of our mutual passion.
This August you wanted to come and see us in our workshop, but time did not permit. From now on you will always be with us.
We thought you were immortal. Your work will be. You put all your life and all your love into it, which you shared with all of us. We miss you so much! Our memories will slowly fill the gap.
We had the chance to say goodbye to you on the evening of your departure. Looking at you, so serene, we realised that never again will we have the pleasure of arriving at your house and hearing you say: “Hello D’Artagnan! Come on, come on!…”
How can we forget your generosity, your kindness. You knew how to create your life as you wished. You were and will always be our greatest inspiration. We keep your beautiful smile as our last image. Rest in peace, you have gone on the longest journey.