Azzedine Alaïa’s place in the design hall of fame is guaranteed – his signature being the second skin that he creates when challenging the boundaries of flesh and fabric. Azzedine was born in Tunisia in the 40s to wheat-farming parents. A French friend of his mother fed Azzedine’s instinctive creativity with copies of Vogue and lied about his age to get him into the local Ecole des Beaux-Arts to study sculpture – a discipline in which he didn’t excel, but that he would put to good use in the future. After spotting an ad for a vacancy at a dressmaker’s, Azzedine’s sister taught him to sew and he started making copies of couture dresses for neighbours. Soon afterwards, he went to Paris to work for Christian Dior, but managed only five days of sewing labels before being fired. Azzedine moved to Guy Laroche, where for two seasons he learned his craft while earning his keep as housekeeper to the Marquise de Mazan. In 1960, the Blegiers family snapped up Azzedine, and for the next five years he was both housekeeper and dressmaker to the Countess and her friends, mixing with glamorous Paris society; a clientele that followed him when he started out on his own. His first ready-to-wear collection for Charles Jourdan in the 70s was not well received, but eventually fashion editors tuned into Azzedine’s modern elegance – something that would eventually come to define body conscious aesthetics a qpower to command an audience outside of the catwalk schedule: Azzedine shows when he wants, regardless of the round of timetabled international fashion weeks, and editors never miss it. In 1998, he published a book of photographs of his creations, entitled ‘Alaïa’. In 2000 he was honoured with a solo exhibition at the New York Guggenheim. In October 2004 he opened his very own hotel (5 rue de Moussy) adjoining the Alaïa headquarters in Paris. The headquarters also house an exhibition space that has been exhibiting work by designers and furniture designers such as Paul Poiret and Shiro Kuramata as well as several world photo exhibitions since 2004. The first SOUL i-D exhibition was held in Gallerie Azzedine Alaïa in November 2008. After a seven-year long successful and positive partnership with the Prada group, Azzedine joined forces with the Richemont group in 2007.