None of Azzedine Alaïa’s dresses appear in the Costume Institute’s new “Model As Muse” exhibit. He wasn’t invited to the gala, either, even though seven models, including Naomi Campbell, asked him to make dresses for them, thus asserting his popularity among, and significance to, the subjects of the Met’s new exhibit. In fact, Alaïa has tight-knit relationships with many big models, including Naomi, who has been a muse of his for 23 years and lived with him in Paris at the start of her career — she even calls him “Papa.” It makes little sense for the Met to completely ignore the work of a designer whom one of the world’s most famous models sees in some sort of parental light. Alaïa was hurt to discover his work wasn’t included in the show, and asked the girls he was supposed to dress not to wear his dresses to the affair. Naomi simply decided not to attend at all. “[S]he feels she doesn’t want to attend unless she can represent his work,” her spokeswoman said. (She just moved into an apartment in the Time Warner Center and has fruit shopping at Whole Foods to take care of.) Stephanie Seymour also decided not to attend for this reason.
Alaïa blames gala hostess Anna Wintour for excluding him. “She has too much power over this museum,” Alaïa tells the New York Times. Alaïa has received very little attention from Vogue over the past fifteen years. But exhibit curator Harold Koda asserts that Anna has no involvement in curating the shows. He said he did not include Alaïa’s work because he figured the designer wouldn’t agree to be part of a group show. But he tried to soften the oversight by adding that he would love to devote an entire exhibit to Alaïa’s work one day, if the Met changes its policy about dedicating entire shows to one living designer (if they did, would other designers feel especially inclined to purchase so many $7,500 seats to fund it?).
But you know what? We have jobs, we’ve glossed over things, we’ve messed up — we know how this stuff works. Assuming what he says about Anna having no involvement in the exhibits is true, Koda’s explanation sounds like a fancy way of saying he was too lazy to pick up the phone and ask Alaïa if he’d throw some dresses his way. Or perhaps it’s a cover-up for forgetting to do so? Maybe museum curators aren’t as hypermeticulous as stereotypes suggest.