Alaïa RTW Spring 2021

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Now that Les Editions, reeditions of iconic designs by Monsieur Alaïa, have been developed into a separate offering, the temptation to read the seasonal Alaïa collections based on these pieces is lessening. And while the inspiration stays deeply rooted in the late couturier’s life and work — this time Africa, both for his heritage but also a 1996 trip he took to the continent with the late photographer Peter Beard that saw the pair stay in a Maasai village — it’s the textile development that is meant to shine.

And shine it does. This time, there was raffia woven into knitwear, preserving at once the softness expected of a knit dress and the shivering fringing of its fibrous origins — a delight for the eye and for ASMR fans; a combination of macramé fabric reworked with filigree embroidery; a corded viscose thread used to create weaves inspired by the iconic cage dresses without requiring any reinforcements; seamless 3-D knits that can now be executed right down to individual fringes and scallops, and openwork transparent effects woven directly into a dress, creating a weightless impression of a pattern across the skin.

His spirit is never far. In the laser-cut fireworks pattern that perforated a white poplin dress, leaving its colorful lining visible, it was impossible not to recall the Jean-Paul Goude photograph that captured the couturier as a flamenco guitarist next to a model wearing a dress in a similar burst design.

Alaïa RTW Spring 2021

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As ever, the end result is that there is plenty to look at, for the devotee as well as the casual browser. Ultimately, that is the most used technique at Alaïa: to pursue innovation, rather than conservation, of its heritage.

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