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Azzedine Alaïa x Tati: the not-to-be-missed souvenir exhibition

© Guy Marineau

Spring-Summer 1991, to the general surprise, Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most respected couturiers of the fashion sphere, presents a collection cut in the iconic gingham motif of Tati, the most “low cost” store around—as its famous motto boasts. Very daring!

At the time, nobody could imagine that the collaborations between famed designers and mass market flagships would become run-of-the-mill a decade later (Karl Lagerfeld x H&M, Target x Proenza Schouler, Virgil Abloh x Ikea…). The Association Azzedine Alaïa(ex-Galerie Azzedine Alaïa) is highlighting this episode which marked the history of fashion through an homage exhibition curated by the talented Olivier Saillard (former director of Palais Galliera, now artistic director of JM Weston).

The secrets behind in unexpected union

So how did the couture maestro become infatuated with theTati print, ultimate symbol of cheap shopping, to the point of designing an entire collection around its gingham motif? It’s his friend, American artist Julian Schnabel, who played the go-between. He himself had reached out to Tati in order to using their distinctive checks as canvases to paint on. “And at the same time, I suddenly had this idea: what if Azzedine, known for his exquisite but very costly clothing, could use this fabric with the slogan Tati motif, the lowest prices—it would be a perfect association,” he remembers.

Naomi Campbell wearing Vichy Tati collection from Azzedine Alaïa

© Ellen von Unwerth

And with just one phone call Alaïa obtains the famous Tati gingham check canvases. As a counterpart, he committed to creating a bag, espadrilles and a tee-shirt, for the shops of the general public flagship. Needless to say, we regret that this capsule collection, as it is called today, is not presented in the exhibition but the rest is a show-stopper.


Fun fact, the exhibition is presented where Alaïa actually lived and under the skylight where the fashion shows took place, nearly 30 years ago. A video at the end of the presentation testifies to the resolutely fun, joyful and off-beat ambiance of the catwalk.

Vichy Tati collection from Azzedine Alaïa in Paris

© Stéphane Ait Ouarab

The silhouettes are presented entirely and in different shades: from black gingham to the pink motif including blue, on a “T-shaped” base, ultimate wink to the Barbès store: sheath dresses, blousons, tapered pants, lace bustiers, pencil skirts, boom-boom shorts… The gingham motif is printed in different sizes and patterns: from classic houndstooth to enlarged motifs for streamlined clothing, all created by the master of perfect cuts.

On the walls, the famous works of Julian Schnabel, large format paintings, dating back to 1989, which inspired Alaïa, face illustrations by Thierry Perez,created specially for the exhibition, showcasing the collection worn by Naomi Campbell and Neneh Cherry, the fetish models of the couturier.

A terrace café

It’s brand new. The Alaïa HQ on Rue de la Verrerie have opened an arty bookshop dedicated to fashion that features a coffee-shop stretching out on the inner courtyard. A great spot to come sip a little café (€3) with a Stohrer pastry (€8) after the exhibition.

Azzedine Alaïa, Une autre pensée sur la mode, la collection TATI.

Open every day from 11am to 9pm, until the 5th of January 2020. Entrance €5.

Also check out the exhibition of Pharrell Williams and the one on painter Berthe Morisot.

Julie Zwingelstein

Where to find it ?

Association Azzedine Alaïa

18, rue de la Verrerie

75004 Paris

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