Azzedine Alaïa has built her eponymous brand into an understated fashion powerhouse that has attracted a clientele not for its overt brand image, but for its exquisite craftsmanship and unmistakable silhouettes. Who needs a logo when your dresses do all the marketing for you?
That then was, what is now. In September 2022, Alaïa presents its very first sneaker collaboration, a surprise partnership with the Italian shoe brand Superga.
Alaïa x Superga comprises four distinct silhouettes, each a unique hybridization of house ideals and Superga’s approachable form.
Azzedine Alaïa did everything on his own terms. He focused entirely on handmade clothes at the couture level, inviting well-heeled admirers to exclusive fittings in his Paris studio and avoiding the fashion calendar altogether if his schedule didn’t allow it.
Alaïa was clothing first, customers second, commerce third or fourth or maybe not at all. Not that he wasn’t a shrewd salesman, but a true artist puts art above profit.
The minute creator’s no-compromise philosophy has won over fans as varied as Naomi Campbell, Rei Kawakubo and Peter Lindbergh. But times are changing.
With Raf Simons’ right-hand man, Pieter Miulier, who has overseen Alaïa for a few years following the passing of the eponymous founder in 2017, the house has stayed true to its core beliefs while artfully expanding its reach.
Maison Alaïa now focuses on ready-to-wear, a clean website, a complete collection of handbags and accessories, adapting to the changing world with a new direction.
But if a house as inimitable as Alaïa enters the sneaker world, we can expect it to partner with a brand at least as big as it is; the Nikes and adidas of the world.
Nope! It’s the humble Superga that gets the Alaïa touch, which makes sense enough given Azzedine Alaïa’s personal predilection for humble appearances – the designer’s perpetual uniform was a black suit consisting of a jacket and Chinese silk pants with black cotton slippers.
Mulier’s Alaïa x Superga 2750 and 2790 sneakers are the house’s delicate first step into the world of sneakers.
I won’t call it streetwear because they’re not your typical trainer: pairs start at $460 for a white canvas shoe that’s finished with a satin Alaïa label, double “A” dots, and an insole. in leather, reaching $730 for a black platform pair fitted with an embossed leather upper.
A normal Superga 2750 sells for around $65, mind you. These are the daily engines of Italy, making this Maison Alaïa team a delightful exploration of contrasts.
It’s a brave new world for Alaïa, who will continue to release ultra-limited edition Superga sneakers on the Alaïa website and stores over the coming seasons.
It’s as accessible as Alaïa is, which is to say not very accessible. But it’s Alaïa for you.