Early 1990s Azzedine Alaia Black Knit Couture Dress w Beaded Hem & Hand Placed Mirrors
This dress is from the early 1990s and I think it is from around 1992. His 1992 collections featured a ton of dresses with this same boy short finish inside. It is interesting to note that his dresses from this time period were as well known for their prices as they were for their extreme shortness. In a 1992 article in Elle Magazine they reported that his collection was 'extraordinarily pricey with cardigans run around $1,400 and dresses between $2,500 and $3,500' (just under $7,000 in modern dollars). This was in part due to the specialized fabrics that Alaia was developing. In the text found in that same 10 page spread, Azzedine is said to have been 'delighted in the space-age fabric he used for his Spring 1992 collection. He calls the NASA-developed material 'Relax' for its purported ability to act as a screen against microwave emissions'. Azzedine produced two versions of this dress and I have both versions in the shop today. At first glance they look very similar. This version is the more couture of the two and the hem is finished with extensive hand beading and a real metallic thread. There are also hand placed mirrors worked into the hem. As a result this one is to more expensive but also the one that is more rare and harder to find. Less of these more elaborate versions would have been produced.
The dress is made from one of Alaia's iconic black stretch knits. These were made to hug the body and define every curve while cleverly smoothing out everything underneath. The neckline is set wide across the front and it and scooped on a square off shape at the corners. It is cut low on the bust and it is finished with a touch of scalloping to the edge. This is a detail that he started to use around this time period and that you still see on the house's designs to this day. The way the knit has been made gives it a structure that is built right into it. Once on the body it shapes and molds the body underneath it while never feeling to constrictive. Alaia pieces are remarkably easy to move in and have more ease to them then some of the other 'bandage' dresses from other designers of this time period who were doing similar body conscious dresses. The sleeves and body of the dress are made from a more flat weave knit that is opaque. Under that the skirt starts low on the hip is cut to swing around you as you walk. It is very short and the knit has a more open weave to it that gives it a semi-transparent finish. The edge of the skirt is finished with an amazing combination of hand set glass beads and marquise shaped mirrors. The beads are done in little stacked horizontal rows on top of a raised vertical metal thread. Mirrors are set by hand in between the rows and and each mirror is held in place by metal thread using a North Indian technique called Abla or Shisha. This gives the skirt some weight and I love the fullness of the skirt and the movement it has once it is on. Under the skirt are attached and fitted knit boy shorts that snap into place. So when it is on you see through the skirt but are fully covered with the short shorts underneath. This is a very rare dress from one of the greatest designers of our time. It is entirely original. Excellent condition.
Unlined and closes at the back with a hidden set zipper. The inner boy shorts snap to close. There is the slightest bit of sheen to the fabric near the seam under each arm. The mirrors show some patina which is a natural part of aging with this type of paste mirror. Tagged a small and the fabric has stretch so should fit a range of sizes. The measurements show the comfortable range laying flat.
Bust: 16-20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 11-14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: 15-20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length to inner boy short: 27-30" from shoulder to inner snaps of shorts
Length: 33" from shoulder to bottom hem of skirt
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-MED
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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