Any relationship that lasts 35 years must be doing something right. And when it comes to the one between Barneys and the incomparable Azzedine Alaïa, things are just oh so right. This month, we’re marking the 35th anniversary of our very special union with the Paris-based designer, and to celebrate the partnership, we’ve joined with the fashion house to create an incredible collaboration: a Barneys-exclusive capsule collection of ready-to-wear pieces, two exclusive handbags, and dazzling store window displays. And as if that weren’t enough to get our blood pumping, we’re also now offering Alaïa shoes and bags online for the very first time.
“Very few designers have had as long and fruitful a career at Barneys as Azzedine Alaïa,” says our CEO, Daniella Vitale. “He is not part of any ‘look’ or trend—he has genuinely stayed true to his aesthetic through and through. His is probably the only designer collection on the market now that is centered around incredibly modern yet timeless silhouettes.”
But the love we feel for Monsieur Alaïa is far from a one-way street. “Barneys is a very important place for me,” the man himself tells us from Paris. “It has always supported me, and I’m grateful for that fidelity and support.” That partnership over the past three and a half decades has led to some of the most iconic moments in the history of both Barneys and Alaïa.
“We went back through our archives, and we found all these amazing vintage advertisements and editorial images from previous collections dating back to the 1980s,” Vitale explains of the process of collaborating with the Alaïa team. “We presented the pictures, and so many of the pieces were so timeless that it wasn’t difficult to draw inspiration from them.”
That inspiration has manifested itself in the pieces that are included in the Barneys-exclusive capsule collection: the eight dresses Alaïa designed for Barney based on pieces culled from his impressive archives, which are now available in select stores, as well as two exclusive handbags, which are available online for the first time. “He has always had a strong and distinct point of view in accessories and shoes,” Vitale says, “and now customers can use barneys.com to invest in an accessory to begin building their collection.”
Beyond that online availability, the anniversary is also being celebrated with window installations at our Madison Avenue and Downtown flagships here in New York, along with our Beverly Hills store. Drawing inspiration from Alaïa’s signature die-cut petit fleur pattern, the windows integrate the design into rotating vignettes that provide a 360-degree view of the collection. “Part of what we wanted to achieve was to show the pieces from different vantage points, because from every side and every angle, they beautifully emphasize different parts of a woman’s body,” says Barneys’ creative director Matthew Mazzucca.
That emphasis on the female form is key to what has made Alaïa such an enduring presence in the world of fashion, as the designer has become best known for his pieces that highlight a womanly confidence and strength. “At the core of the house’s DNA is a focus on femininity,” Mazzucca continues. “He knows how to highlight a woman’s shape, regardless of body type, and allowing the pieces to rotate was a great way to show that.”
35 Years Of Alaïa is on view at both New York Barneys locations and Barneys Beverly Hills now through August.