How does one stand up to an undisputed master? By being humble.
This is the route that Pieter Mulier chose for his debut as creative director of the house of Alaïa. Instead of putting his own ego forward, Mulier was supremely faithful to founder Azzedine Alaïa — up to a point. It takes maturity to manage such a balance. Taste and vision, too.
“I want to bring Alaïa back to the street, make it more democratic,” said Mulier backstage. Not democratic as in sportswear, but democratic as in easy. The show was held dans la rue: on the Rue de Moussy in the Marais, to be precise, a street to which Alaïa had a visceral attachment. There was an immediacy and an ease to the clothes: masculine tailoring, viscose dresses, Tunisian capes, roomy coats and form-fitting tubes that had an instant goddess effect.
The collection clearly reconnected with what Alaïa was doing in the early Eighties, but it was completely of the now. Sensuality is what hit home in the most charming of ways: a celebration of female beauty and feminine forms that oozed energy and sexuality, while keeping vulgarity at bay. Vittoria Ceretti — wrapped in a cocooning grey coat, head closed in a medieval hood, waist cinched — was wonderfully sexual, with not an ounce of skin on show.
Mulier let the clothing do all the talking in this debut, which is possibly the humblest and the boldest move a designer can make nowadays: no social media tricks, no influencer casting, just a love for clothes-making and the stubborn aim to celebrate beauty.