Displaying Azzedine Alaïa’s Houpette Dress: Inside Arc and AzzedineAlaïa: The Couturier

Opening in May 2018, two fashion exhibitions, Inside Arc at the Fashion Space Gallery and AzzedineAlaïa: The couturier at the Design Museum (London), both of which exhibit a Azzedine Alaïa Houpette dress. However, the exhibitions have purposefully displayed the dress in different ways. In this post I will review the different uses of the garment in each exhibition because the curators have given differing meanings to the dress through their individual interpretation and display methods.

Both exhibitions display a light blue example of the dress, each varying in length and years. The dress is an example of Alaïa’s innovative and precisely engineered knitwear. Inspired by the master couturier Charles James, Alaïa used alternating strips of ‘Houppe’, a fabric made up of tufts of nylon threads that imitate the feel of swan down feathers. The design was intended to sculpt the wearer with varying tension that shapes the entire body.

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