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Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Tunis, Feb 2, 1935).

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison.

Born in southern Tunisia, Alaïa was raised by his maternal grandparents and at the age of 15 undertook the study of sculpture. Realizing soon after that sculpture was not his calling, and serendipitously passing a dressmaker’s window on his way to classes, he saw a sign for an assistant. He was hired for the task of finishing hems at five francs apiece. Alaïa rose quickly to become a favourite of Tunisian high society, copying for the local clientele the work of the great ...

Article

Sarah Scaturro

[Çaglayan, Hüseyin]

(bNicosia, Aug 12, 1970).

British fashion designer born in Turkish Cyprus. Chalayan won the British Fashion Award for Designer of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He is best known for his cerebral designs that reference architecture, geopolitics and technology, as well as exploring the theme of transformation.

Chalayan was educated in Cyprus before moving to London to attend Central St Martins College of Art and Design, where he graduated with honours in 1993 with a BA in fashion. His innovative final year collection titled ‘The Tangent Flows’ consisted of silk and cotton garments that had been covered in iron shavings and buried for six weeks in a garden. These garments, exhumed right before his show, had developed a rusty, earthy patina that commented on the beauty of decay by echoing the process of burial and rebirth. Soon afterwards, his collection was featured in the windows of the London store Browns.

Chalayan founded his eponymous line the next year with his first commercial collection ‘Cartesia’ for Autumn/Winter ...

Article

Lourdes Font

[ Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, Yves Henri Donat ]

(b Oran, Algeria, Aug 1, 1936; d Paris, June 1, 2008).

French fashion designer ( see fig. ). In the late 20th century, few fashion designers could match Saint Laurent’s versatility, flawless sense of proportion and painterly gift for colour. From his six seasons as head designer at the house of Dior to his forty-year career at his own house, Saint Laurent safeguarded the standards of the Paris couture. Beginning in 1966, he and his partner Pierre Bergé also created an international network of ready-to-wear boutiques, launched fragrance, cosmetics and menswear subsidiaries and supervised the production of licensed products. The basis for Saint Laurent’s success was a talent nurtured by a deep knowledge of art and literature and a love for the theatre. He began his career as an innovator, able to synthesize the legacies of earlier couturiers while keeping a discerning eye on the contemporary street. In 1976, Saint Laurent demonstrated that, like Dior, he was capable of transforming the fashionable woman with a single collection. Having created a style of his own, Saint Laurent ended his career as the standard-bearer of French modern Classicism....

Article

W. Ali

(Rashad) [Shawwa, Layla Rashād]

(b Gaza, April 4, 1940).

Palestinian painter and jewellery designer. She was trained in Cairo at the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art (1957–8), and in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti (1958–64) and the Accademia di S Giacomo (1960–64); she also attended summer courses at the School of Seeing in Salzburg, where she worked under Oskar Kokoschka. On returning to Gaza she was appointed supervisor for arts and crafts education in UNRWA schools (1965–7) and a UNESCO lecturer in child education at training courses for UNRWA teachers (1966–7). From 1967 to 1975 she worked in Beirut as a full-time painter and children’s book illustrator. In 1977 she collaborated with a team of architects on the construction of the Cultural Centre in Gaza, executing large stained-glass windows for the project. In 1987 she settled in London. Her paintings are distinguished by their bold style and subject-matter. After a period early in her career when she depicted fictional Oriental cities and horses, she dealt with contemporary issues, such as the role and aspirations of women (e.g. ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Jerusalem, May 18, 1945).

Israeli conceptual artist. He emerged as an artist, in the 1970s, without having had any formal education, addressing disparate concerns germane to conceptual art. The series Five Finger Excercise, begun in 1973, looked at the idea of sameness and uniqueness in art by covering canvases with the artist’s fingerprints. Towards the end of the decade he began to settle on a core of related themes and concerns that continued to preoccupy him. Fascinated by Modernist art’s pursuit of formalism, Toren sought metaphors for the way in which art cannibalizes itself; in so doing he has addressed issues relating to representation in art. In the series Neither a Painting nor a Chair (1979–80; see exh. cat. 1990–91, p. 15) Toren used shavings of wood from a demolished chair as pigment for a series of ten paintings reconstituting the chair as an image. A similar series begun in 1983, Of The Times...