Alaïa’s FW2023 show was held at the top of a brutalist residential tower on Antwerp’s left bank on Friday. The duplex apartment is owned by Alaïa’s creative director, Pieter Mulier, and his partner Matthieu Blazy (artistic director at Bottega Veneta), and it proved to be the perfect venue to unveil Mulier’s most personal collection yet.
In wholesale retail, the fourth season is often a brand’s biggest test, as the first collections are bought on buyer’s intuition. It is not until the fourth season that a full set of supporting sales data is available. At Alaïa, Mulier’s fourth season was the one where he found an equilibrium between mastering the codes of the house and charting the path to writing his own design language.
Luxury without over embellishment
The softly-lit concrete surroundings, originally designed by Belgian architects Stynen & De Meyer in the 70s and updated by Glenn Sestig in 2015, formed the perfect backdrop to the cocooning shapes of a circular palazzo pant, the rounded shoulders of blousons and turtlenecks, or the bodice of a catsuit darted with metal. Leather, wools and cotton, the backbone of Alaïa’s fabrications, had forms stripped to their purest essence, luxury without over embellishment.
Elsewhere a leather belt morphed into a harness, and several panelled dresses were impeccably cut to envelop the body. Some of the gowns, most notably a white dress spiritually draped with a headscarf, will surely resurface at the Academy Awards in March.
It was easy to forget the stunning panoramas of the 21st floor when the collection had the audience in thrall.