Azzedine Alaïa must have been feeling intoxicated off his recent acceptance into the Syndical when he decided to take on none other than Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief, the woman who decides what the women of the world are going to be wearing each season. Here’s what he had to say about her.
"I said it before. She runs the business [of Vogue] very well, but not the fashion part. When I see how she is dressed, I don’t believe in her tastes one second. I can say it loudly! She hasn’t photographed my work in years even if I am a best seller in the US and I have 140 square meters at Barneys. American women love me; I don’t need her support at all. Anna Wintour doesn’t deal with pictures; she is just doing PR and business, and she scares everybody. But when she sees me, she is the scared one. [Laughs.] Other people think like me, but don’t say it because they are afraid that Vogue won’t photograph them. Anyway, who will remember Anna Wintour in the history of fashion? No one. Take Diana Vreeland, she is remembered because she was so chic. What she did with the magazine was great, with Avedon and all the great photographers. Vogue remains while its fashion editors come and go."
His resentment of Ms. Wintour runs deep. He snubbed the Wintour-run Costume Institute Gala in 2009 because he felt his work should have been included in the exhibit. Last week, Alaïa put on his first show since 2003 at the very end of couture week. Alaïa reportedly banned all the Vogue editors from attending his show, and Anna Wintour reportedly banned her staff from going, according to the Telegraph.
He seems to be banning, snubbing, and rejecting so many big names recently. He allegedly was offered yet turned down the position at Dior, and he recently turned down the Légion d’honneur medal. His reasons for this latest snub? “I refused because I don’t like decorations - except on women” He then went on to hammer his point that designers are overworked, and should be more like him, turning down offers.
“Designers working for big houses like Dior or Vuitton have no time to reflect. We can’t just squeeze the young talents out like lemons and then throw them away. It’s a shame talents are being abused for this. I really don’t understand that. I have to live as well. That’s what life is about: living. Tell me how these designers who work for the major houses can have lives? How can they raise children if they are never home?"
Back in March, Azzedine Alaïa had spoken out against the “inhumane” state of fashion. He works at his own pace, and decided years ago not to display his work on the runway, but instead invites clients to view his looks in his private studio, whenever they are ready. He declared that fashion’s breakneck pace puts far too much pressure upon designers to churn out collection after collection. He credits this intense pressure as the reason behind his friend John Galliano’s fall from grace, and hinted that Karl Lagerfeld might be responsible for young designers crumbling under pressure.
"Happily, women love me and buy my clothes, unlike Karl who’s never been loved like me! [Laughs.] . . . I don’t like his fashion, his spirit, his attitude. It’s too much caricature. Karl Lagerfeld never touched a pair of scissors in his life. That doesn’t mean that he’s not great, but he’s part of another system. He has capacity. One day he does photography, the next he does advertisements for Coca-Cola. I would rather die than see my face in a car advertisement. We don’t do the same work. And I think that he is not doing a favor to young [designers] who might think it works that way. They’re going to fall before they retire."
He’s thrown a lot of punches! How have Karl and Anna responded? Lagerfeld didn’t even mention his name, but dismissed the popular notion that today's fashion industry forces designers to overextend themselves:
"I'm not like those designers who think they are pressed too much, that their creativity is so fragile. It's very simple, no? Don't take the job if you think you cannot do it. Bad football players do not play in the first league. Swimmers who cannot really swim never win. I mean, you have to know if you can do this kind of sport on that level. If not, forget about it. But you cannot expect people to cry about you, that you are so overworked, so pressed. Nobody presses me."
Anna hasn’t spoken publicly, but I’m sure she felt a little smug when French president Nicolas Sarkozy presented her with a Legion d’Honneur award to add to her collection. He pinned the medal to her brand new Chanel couture suit, designed by Lagerfeld of course, that had walked the runway the night before. Anna accepted her pin in front of a crowd that included Bernard Arnault, Karl Lagerfeld, Stefano Pilati, Donatella Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Alber Elbaz, Franca Sozzani, and Riccardo Tisci. "We had this very nice cocktail, where Anna made a very funny speech," Lagerfeld told reporters. Surrounded by fashion’s elite, I think it’s safe to say that Anna and Karl aren’t taking Azzedine’s jabs very seriously. They keep on laughing. All the way to the bank.