A seriously off-schedule show is becoming something of a tradition for Azzedine Alaïa. The designer presented his spring ’17 collection in his Marais headquarters well after the Tuilleries tents had packed up for another season.
But while it would be an exaggeration to call this collection a departure, it did represent a significant shift, albeit one in harmony with cherished house codes.
There was definitely a more youthful, sportif vitality – taking in shirting, voluminous dresses and ’90s-inflected zip-front versions, plus a little something not a million miles from an Alaia bomber jacket. This is the designer who, after all, debuted an Alaïa sneaker for spring ’16.
There was a new fluidity as well that came from breezier and lengthier silhouettes but also via the use of abbreviated overlays that appeared to bob down the runway like a flotilla of yachts at Cannes.
That sort of gait comes from the ground up, and whereas some (fools) might consider footwear an afterthought, it is a vital component in creating the attitude that defines a collection.
Azzedine Alaïa’s spring ’17 shoes were flat. Every single last one of them. And we’re talking flush to the floor, pancake flat. Not a flatform in sight. In line with the clothes, they came predominantly in a palette of black and white punctuated by jazzy flashes of scarlet red.
The highlight was a leather-mesh sandal, done in both black and white versions, that bound foot and ankle in supple armor.
This key shoe looked to the archive and, in particular, a dress from the designer’s 1991 collection that featured a cage-like leather mesh in a grid formation that was anchored by myriad brass rivets so it resembled a piece of metal chainmail.
There were also more delicate iterations – sandals with barely there straps dotted in micro studs or the most minuscule of cutouts. Slightly more robust versions in woven leather encased the heel.
Scalloped thongs or double-strap sandals were embellished with those classic Alaïa grommets and came with ankle straps and a subtle gladiator vibe. But they were secured at the rear of the heel with tiny zips to work for a more contemporary Joan of Arc.
Stiletto fans, like Carine Roitfeld, who was seated front row wearing the current season’s eyelet-embellished pumps, needn’t fret, though. The full collection delivers for die-hard heel-wearers as well.