Arthur Elgort and Grethe Holby Elgort, New York City, 1987 © Arthur Elgort

Arthur Elgort, born in New York, and Azzedine Alaïa, born in Tunis, were initially miles apart not only geographically but culturally. Yet, they had a lot in common and, like many artists, they met in Paris. Each was a free spirit. Elgort enrolled at Hunter College to become a painter, but was disappointed. Alaïa went to the School of Fine Arts to become a sculptor, but soon dropped out, not wanting to become a second rate sculptor. But the clothes he would make for a select clientele to finance his studies established him as a virtuoso. Elgort, was set on his way when he went to a store and bought a Polaroid camera which he later swapped for a Nikon.

Naomi Campbell and Jennifer Gimenez, Paris, 1986 © Arthur Elgort

Both shaped the freedom of the fashion scene in Paris in the 1980’s. In Paris, Alaïa was a mysterious and much sought-after private couturier. Some of Paris’ most elegant women would meet him in his little room in the 7th arrondissement to commission bespoke garments from him. 
Elgort’s work was noticed by legendary Condé Nast editorial director who introduced him to Vogue’s editors. Within a year, Elgort’s career was launched.

Noami and Azzedine Alaia 04.05.1987 © Arthur Elgort

“The paths of Azzedine and Arthur ended up crossing in Paris. As they worked together on magazine shoots, Elgort and Alaïa shared a dislike of superfluous sets and props, which got in the way of Elgort’s photographic vision and Alaïa sculptural creations, ”explain the curators of the show, Carla Sozzani and Olivier Saillard.

The Azzedine Alaïa Foundation’s exhibition mixes Elgort dynamic, joyful images of some of the eras’ greatest models - Naomi Campbell, Yasmine Le Bon, Christy Turlington, Veronica Webb, Iman, with Alaïa’s garments, a conversation between the photos and the models.

Jean Sebastien Stehli

Azzedine Alaïa, Arthur Elgort. Freedom. Under the direction of Carla Sozzani and Olivier Saillard. Until 08.20.23
January 10, 2023 — Jean Sebastien Stehli