Skirt, womens, pleated, leather / acetate, designed by Alaia, France, mid 1990s, owned by Gene Sherman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, mid 1990s-2007.
This womens skirt was designed by French designer Alaia. Born in Tunis, Tunisia, c. 1940, Azzedine Alaia studied sculpture at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Tunis, moving to Paris in 1957 to study and work in fashion. Between 1957 and 1959 Alaia worked for Guy Laroche (two seasons), as well as Thierry Mugler. Between 1957 and 1960 Alaia was housekeeper and dressmaker for the Marquise de Mazan and the Comtesse Nicole de Blegiers from 1960 to 1965. From 1960 Alaia worked independently as a designer and tailor of custom clothing for a select clientele, developing an interest in material and manufacturing processes that accentuated the curves of the wearer.
Alaia reached world-wide prominence in the 1980s following the release of his first made-to-wear collection in Paris in 1980 and in New York in 1982. Alaia's experimentation with materials and passion for accentuating the female form inspired the development of practical and comfortable fashion clothing such as lycra cycling shorts and the body suit.
This leather/acetate skirt is an example of Alaia's interest in materials and manufacturing processes. Although clinging closely to the body at the waist the skirt is lined with acalate - a synthetic fibre made from wood pulp, which has a silk-like appearance, resists stretching, shrinking and is moderately absorbent - increasing the elegance, durability, and comfort of the skirt.
This piece forms part of The Gene Sherman Collection. The Collection reflects her individual style as well as her appreciation of contempoary Japanese fashion. The skirt is a complimentary piece of the Collection, produced in France it reflects the reciprical influences Japanese and French fashion houses, such as Comme des Garcons and Alaia, have upon one another.
Dr Gene Sherman is Director of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in Paddington, Sydney. Its predecessor, Sherman Galleries, founded in 1988, was one of Australia's major commercial art galleries, until it closed in 2007. Dr Sherman has organised many exhibitions of contemporary art from Australia and the Asia-Pacific region and has played an important role connecting art and artists in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Dr Gene Sherman was a trustee of the Powerhouse Museum between 1995 and 2001 and special advisor to the Museum between 2002 and 2004. Born in South Africa, Sherman lives in Sydney with her husband Brian Sherman.
Baudot, F., "Fashion memior: Alaia", London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
Jones, T., Mair, A. (eds), "Fashion now: i-D selectd the world's 150 most inportant designers", Koln: Taschen, 2003.
Martin, T. (ed), "Contemporary fashion", (1st ed), Detroit: St James Press, 1995.
This piece was donated with the Gene Sherman Japanese Fashion Collection by Gene Sherman in 2009 under the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program.
The skirt was owned by Gene Sherman in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia from the mid 1990s until 2007. The donor purchased the object in Paris.
Dr Gene Sherman has been collecting avant-garde Japanese fashion for about 20 years. Dr Sherman bought her first piece of Japanese clothing - an asymmetrical one-armed leather jacket by Issey Miyake which is included in this donation - at Rhonda Parry's boutique in Double Bay in 1985. Since then, she has only worn clothes designed by Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons and Akira Isogawa. She explained that her wardrobe consisted of only 20 pieces, noting that "when I acquire something, I retire a piece into my archives". Sherman had special black cardboard boxes made to museum archival standards for storing these 'retired' pieces in her attic.
It is believed that this peice, by Alaia, was included in the Sherman collection as it was designed for a Comme des Garcons collection between 1996 and 2007.