Pieter Mulier makes his debut for the Fashion House Alaïa, only 3 years after the death of its founder- Tunisian Designer and legendary couturier Azzedine Alaïa. The collection emoted elegance, command and sensuality, only in the way that an Alaïa woman would- proving that Mulier speaks the language of the brand.
From the very first look- a tailored black ensemble featuring a signature waist-cinching belt and a meticulously draped hood- it is easy to feel the presence of the late Azzedine. Throughout the collection, the House’s signature motifs of solid colours, figure accentuating dresses and curvature accents can evidently be seen. His choice in how the laser cut knits and sheer dresses layered on top of bodysuits was one of the few ways in which Mulier captured the essence of the brand while adding his own twist to it. This does serve a testimony to Mulier’s attention to detail and deep study of the brand, yet, one might say that it is timid in exhibiting his personal innovation.
What does Mulier bring to the table? Every designer who takes the role of a creative director must speak the language of the house while also contributing their own unique vernacular to it, thereby, creating an often contemporary episode within the brand’s history. Galliano’s Dior, Tichi’s Givenchy and Ford’s Gucci- the period in which these designers were in charge of their respective fashion houses was not only evocative of their time but also of the designers who learned to speak “Dior”, “Givenchy” and “Gucci” through their collections. Mulier’s debut was loved and appreciated for embodying Alaïa unapologetically, and perhaps the fact that as a designer, he did not overwhelm the collection with his personality served as a true tribute to Alaïa- “A tribute to thank you.” The show was held outside of Alaïa Maison, and the show notes were substituted with a heartfelt letter dedicated to Azzedine Alaïa.
Though for future collections, this approach that was balancing between selfless and respectful, could easily be seen as parroting the late founder. Which brings us back to the aforementioned question of what (will) Mulier bring to the table?
If every successful designer must create a contemporary era, how will Mulier capture the zeitgeist of the 2020s? Fashion buyers are becoming more and more conscious of the ethics surrounding the garments that they invest in and want to be seen by those who make them too. Which is why it will be interesting to see the Belgian designer’s approach to modernising the brand- as in how will the new Alaïa be able to create the signature figure accentuating silhouettes for a variety of body sizes. Given the current trends, it is easy to see the Alaïa silhouette gaining widespread popularity within the next seasons and one aspect that will surely propelled the brand to such heights will be their approach to size inclusivity. That being said, we know that Mulier has no intention of doing “sweatshirts, Nylon or Puffers”- as he said to Swiss luxury group Compagnie Financière Richemont executives, who own Alaïa, when auditioning for the role. Fashion enthusiasts must rejoice at this statement, for Pieter, after delivering a powerful and promising debut, clearly did not come to play in the same field as the other clout chasing designers.