Richemont has named Belgian designer Pieter Mulier, a longtime deputy of Raf Simons, as creative director of its Maison Azzedine Alaïa brand. His first collection will be for the Spring-Summer 2022 season, Paris-based Alaïa said in a statement.
Mulier trained as an architect before spending more than 15 years working in senior roles at Simons’ namesake label, as well as alongside the star designer during his tenures at Jil Sander, Christian Dior and Calvin Klein.
In his new role, Mulier will be charged with breathing new life into a brand that is legendary among fashion insiders for designs that cling to and shape the female form, and for its founder’s rejection of the seasonal fashion “system” (Mr Alaïa would release collections when and how he wanted, popping on and off the Paris Fashion Week calendar).
Since his death in 2017, the house has discreetly carried on, staging gallery exhibitions and releasing collections designed by a studio team.
Mulier served as a right hand to Raf Simon as he implemented his somewhat dry, conceptual approach to design — mixing graphic prints mined from contemporary art with streamlined silhouettes — at a string of global fashion brands.
His important behind-the-scenes role was first highlighted publicly in Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary “Dior and I,” in which Mulier serves as a key sounding board and principal intermediary between Simons and his atelier.
Mulier brings a “sharp eye for construction and a sense of timeless beauty,” Alaïa chief executive Myriam Serrano said.
Commercialising Alaïa’s vision has never been a top priority for owner Richemont since first investing in the brand in 2007: the Swiss watch-and-jewellery conglomerate is focused on profit centres like Cartier. But the group has made some moves toward scaling the business in recent years, opening flagships near Paris’s Avenue Montaigne and on London’s New Bond Street, selling online with Net-a-Porter and inking a fragrance deal with Shiseido.
Richemont has shown signs of wanting to clean up and reinvigorate its fashion division more broadly, selling off accessible-luxury labels like Shanghai Tang and Lancel, and bringing in former Givenchy chief executive Philippe Fortunato to oversee its remaining brands like Chloé, which named Uruguayan-American designer Gabriela Hearst as its new creative director last fall. The division also backed former Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz’s new venture, AZ Factory, which showed its first collection in January’s haute couture week in Paris.
As Alaïa’s new designer, Mulier will “carry forward his legacy of celebrating femininity and placing women at the heart of creation,” he said in a statement.