the sculptor's dresses

I have been wanting some time alone to write this post. Not because it is unwritable under supervised circumstances, but because I needed to clear the fog that had gathered around my head, courtesy of rainy Paris. 

It is not unusual for me to strive for thorough documentations of my stuck-up cultural visits. Ones where I would criticize and dissect, painting to you (nonexistent) readers the image of a beat artist (or the stereotypical beatnik), an intellectual dramatic persona, clad in perfect black, notebook in hand, hipster camera around neck, mind brimming with thoughts on thoughts on unspoken thoughts, legs straight, eyes on the prize, I am digressing and I am totally feeling it. 

In short. No short for you.

This entire tirade was only meant for thy to tell thee about thine adventures, Parisian adventures that is. 

During the past couple of days, Paris has been rainy. And the kind of rain that leaves the sky one typical shade of gray (holy bananas, I did not just write this) and your hair and shoes an eternal shade of wet. 

On such days, indoors are a welcome alternative, of course.

But whether it was wet or not, I had planned to nurture my fashion/graphic design aspirations by attending two exhibitions: a first one, a retrospective of couturier Azzeddine Alaïa's thorough body (literally) of work at the Musée Galliera* and a second, of book designer Irma Boom at the Institut Néerlandais.

I will speak of the first only, because there was something both hauntingly beautiful and spectacular in that exhibit, which lit a small flame inside of my heart and warmed my cold Paris-soaked bones.

Then, and in another post (that will hopefully make it by the end of the week**), I will speak of another exhibit (that will remain unnamed) this time with photos because photos were allowed. 

Azzeddine Alaïa is beyond a name in the fashion world. To speak briefly about him, one can say that he hails from Tunis, and that he was trained to be a sculptor, but that he (like so many of us) took a slightly different career path (and unlike so many of us-yes, I'm talking about moi) succeeded in it. 

To be clear, I don't feel any need to dwell on formalities, introducing or describing or anything. There are better articles out there (in the real online world, not the cotton-candy-unicorn world in which I annoyingly live,) that are what I would call scientific and objective, perhaps more researched and better rounded than the scatters of memory and Sarahic-emotion collected on this page. 

This is what I remember. 

When first you enter the exhibition space, soft darkness prevails. Darkness, with light and shadow and dress, here and there. It was wonderful to read about each dress, slowly, to take in the beauty of each dress, in a hall where nothing resounded but the click of heels (boot heels because of the rain remember) and a random American woman who walked in, a noisy plastic bag in hand, pointing to a 1991 beautiful thick-ribbed-velvet dress and claiming casually (#humblebrag): "I had that dress. I sold it." Of course this was enough for me to turn my head around, to blink three times and then to return back to my calm reading, repeating religiously to myself, "whatever, one day I'll own a Alaïa, place it in a shrine and never, ever sell it."***

The dresses were not displayed according to the year in which they were made. Still, you could not separate the dresses or scatter them across time, saying that they belonged to this year or that one. They exuded timelessness. There was a class and an elegance than you could feel just by looking at each dress. The way it hugged the body, the way it traced each shape, delicately, amorously, the way it practically worshipped the body. These dresses were nothing short of a declaration of love to the woman's body. And I am not surprised, as it is Alaïa's self-proclaimed love for the woman that is the true creator, the true couturier. Countless then were the times (and the dresses) where he accentuated every curvature, every cleavage, every slit, perfecting the whole and offering it to the woman as a symbol of his undying love to her.

And Mr. Alaïa says something close to: "a dress is not meant to be the execution of a design" which is yet another proof of his particular work ethic. He is not a designer, he is a couturier, a sculptor, a craftsman. He does not draw designs, he makes dresses with his heart and his hands. And this categorically differentiates him from the handful of designers that are popular on the market at the moment (not that I do not respect them, on the contrary, I do) I'm just saying that his metaphorical exoticism (because he is not exotic in his dresses, but in his work process, I think. I don't know. Never mind.) makes his dresses refreshing and quite frankly, just delicious to see to feel to touch.

The exhibit is worth your visit. (It was worth mine.) The dresses lull you to dream as you discover them, one after the other. I can still picture some of them in my head. Random facts still pop up in my brain. A red dress worn by Rihanna, A beaded two-piece bra and skirt worn by Naomi Campbell. Leopard prints, a redesigned trench, eyelets piercing through black fabric, beautiful long dresses. Another dress featuring a triangular shape delicately detailed (I'll let you guess the location on which it graced the dress.)

Have I talked too much? Maybe I have. 
It's just. There are days you don't mind forgetting. And then there are days that you would just like to remember forever (One-Direction lyric inspiration here?) 

We out.
Sarah out. (Sarah shout? ha ha ha)

* The Musée de la Mode at Paris
** LOL, right?
*** Join me please as we all laugh out loud, derogating my silly silly silly dreams.

ps: I felt like adding this part because. I began to write this post when in Rome, on my hotel bed. I completed it in Beirut a few days after I returned, sitting at my desk and facing the new wallpaper that has just been put up in my room. (squeals of excitement have been spared for your own sanity.)


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