Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A00834 - Jana Novotna, Czech Winner of Wimbledon

Jana Novotna after the 1998 Wimbledon Championships. She won 17 Grand Slam titles over her career, including 16 in doubles and mixed doubles, as well as three Olympic medals. But it was the highlight of her singles career that came to define her. CreditGary M. Prior/Getty Images
Jana Novotna, the Czech tennis star who cried on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder after losing a Wimbledon singles final in 1993 and then triumphed at the same tournament five years later, died on Sunday in the Czech Republic. She was 49.
The Women’s Tennis Association confirmed her death in a statement, which did not specify where in her native country she died. She had cancer.
Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles over her career, 16 of them in doubles and mixed doubles, as well as three Olympic medals. But it was her singles career that came to define her.
She had sought for years to dominate the lawn at Wimbledon. In 1993, she appeared to be on the verge of just such a victory. Up by 4-1 in the final set against Steffi Graf, Novotna lost the match, 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-4.
As the trophies were being presented, the Czech tennis player cried on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder. “Jana, I believe that you will do it, don’t worry,” the duchess told her, by Novotna’s account.
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Five years later, she did.
Novotna, then 29, defeated Nathalie Tauziat of France, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), to lift the Wimbledon singles trophy for the first and only time.
Novotna famously cried on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder in 1993 after losing the women’s singles final at Wimbledon. She triumphed at the same tournament five years later.CreditDenis Paquin/Associated Press
“Jana was an inspiration both on and off the court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her,” said Steve Simon, the Women’s Tennis Association’s chief executive. “Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the W.T.A.”
Novotna turned professional in 1987 and initially drew attention as a doubles player. She began to make a name for herself as a singles player in 1990 — eight years before she won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon.
Known for her serve-and-volley game, she was ranked 13th among women by 1990. By 1993, she was facing off with Graf in the Wimbledon finals. She returned to the tournament finale in 1997, but lost to Martina Hingis of Switzerland.
The following year, Novotna beat Venus Williams in the quarterfinal and exacted some measure of revenge by defeating Hingis in the semifinals. By beating Tauziat, she became the oldest first-time female Grand Slam champion in the Open era. (That record stood until 2010, when Francesca Schiavone of Italy won the French Open less than three weeks before her 30th birthday.)
Novotna reached the final of the Australian Open once and appeared in the semifinals of the French Open and the United States Open, but Wimbledon was her only Grand Slam singles victory. She retired with 100 tournament titles — 76 in doubles and 24 in singles.
She retired from professional tennis in 1999. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
Novotna during the 1998 French Open at Roland Garros. “Jana was an inspiration both on and off the court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her,” said Steve Simon, the chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association. CreditGary M. Prior/Getty Images Europe
Her death sparked a strong reaction in the Czech Republic among former coaches, competitors and sporting officials.
“When she lost to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon in 1993, I was crying,” said Jan Kodes, a fellow Czech tennis player who won three Grand Slams — including one Wimbledon title — in the 1970s. “She came to me and said, ‘Mr. Kodes, don’t cry, I will win it here one day anyhow.’ ”
“And she did five years later,” Kodes said, as quoted by the Czech news website Idnes. “Jana certainly was a player who became a role model for many young girls.”
Ivo Kaderka, president of the Czech Tennis Association, described Novotna as a domestic tennis legend whose impact extended beyond the sport.
“Despite winning Wimbledon, she remained a pleasant, normal intelligent girl, who always came to support us and cheer,” Kaderka said. “Who would have thought she would leave so soon?”
Novotna’s former coach, Hana Mandlikova, told the Czech Press Agency that her death at a young age made it “difficult to find words.”
“Jana was a great girl,” Mandlikova said. “I am very happy it worked out for her in Wimbledon eventually.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A00833 - Azzedine Alaia, Fashion's Most Independent Designer

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Azzedine Alaïa, Fashion’s Most Independent Designer, Is Dead at 82

Azzedine Alaïa, Fashion’s Most Independent Designer, Is Dead at 82

CreditEd Alcock for The New York Times

Azzedine Alaïa, one of the greatest and most uncompromising designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, died on Saturday in Paris. He was 82.
His company said the cause was a heart attack.
Known as a sculptor of the female form, and worn by women from Michelle Obama to Lady Gaga, Mr. Alaïa was equally famous for his rejection of the fashion system and his belief that it had corrupted the creative power of what could be an art form.
He rarely hewed to the official show calendar, preferring to reveal his work when he deemed it ready, as opposed to when retailers or the press demanded it.
Instead he built his own system, and family of collaborators and supporters, and since the turn of the millennium had become an increasingly important voice for the value of striving to perfect and explore a single proprietary aesthetic, and against giving in to the relentless pressure to produce collections.
“I dressed women directly on their body, by intuition. This is how I gained experience,” he once said.
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His kitchen, where he was famous for holding free-flowing lunch and dinner gatherings, for which he often cooked, was his soapbox. There he would regale guests — who could include designers, Kardashians, the artist Julian Schnabel, the architect Peter Marino and seamstresses from his ateliers — long into the night with opinions, stories and exhortations.
He “changed my conception of fashion,” said Nicolas Ghesquière, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, in a documentary on Mr. Alaïa made by the stylist Joe McKenna and released this year. “I thought fashion was about embellishment as a kid, and when I saw Azzedine’s work I understood fashion was about construction and architecture too. To have an amazing idea and the capacity to realize it yourself is the definitive act of a designer.”
Diminutive in stature — at least compared to supermodels like Naomi Campbell, who called him “Papa,” as he was a guardian of sorts for her in Paris at the beginning of her career, and Farida Khelfa — he was always attired in a uniform of black Chinese cotton pajamas. He was famous for working long hours alone, bent over patterns and pieces of fabric, with National Geographic programs playing on the wide-screen TV nearby next to a pillar collaged with photos of friends and their families.
He was also mischievous: He often lied about his age, once told a journalist that his mother was a Swedish model, and liked to hide from his staff members and then startle them by jumping out with a whistle. Prone to holding grudges, fond of animals (he had three dogs — including a St. Bernard — and eight cats), he could also be extraordinarily generous.
Mr. Alaïa dedicated his life to the belief that fashion was more than just garments; to him, they were as much an element in the empowerment of women and of a broader cultural conversation.

From the Alaïa fall 2017 couture collection, shown in Paris. CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
An exhibit of his work in 2015 at the Villa Borghese in Rome, where his gowns held their own among the Caravaggios and Berninis, suggested that he had achieved that goal.
Azzedine Alaïa was born in Tunis, Tunisia, on Feb. 26, 1935 (though some biographical sources list his birth year as 1939 or 1940). He had a twin sister and a younger brother, and his father ran a wheat farm outside the city.
Azzedine became interested in art and design at a young age.
“I was helping Madame Pinot, a midwife that helped in giving birth to my whole family,” he recalled in an interview with the fashion magazine The Ground in 2011. “I told her that I liked to draw. She gave me books, pamphlets to art exhibitions, and my first book of Picasso.”
Soon she registered him at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis, he said, “against my father’s will.”
He also found a job in a small dress shop. “The owner was looking for someone to finish up the dresses,” he said. “My sister had learned sewing with the nuns, and she had a notebook with all the basics. That was my first real experience with fashion, and while I was in the shop, I improved dramatically.”
He added: “Close to the boutique, there was a beautiful palace where two wealthy girls spent their days looking out the balcony. They saw me going in and out of the shop with cartons and fabrics, and finally, one day after school, they came up to question me about my work and invited me to their house that same night.”
There Mr. Alaïa met a cousin of the girls’ who wore Christian Dior and Balmain dresses, and through her he found work with a dressmaker who made copies of Balmain clothing.
From there, with help from a well-connected friend of the cousin’s, he went to Paris, to work for Dior, in 1957. Living in the “chambre de bonne” of Comtesse Nicole de Blégiers, he paid his rent by making clothes for her and babysitting her children.
Word spread, and he became an inside secret of the great and good of French society; clients included the writer Louise de Vilmorin, Cécile and Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, of the banking family, and the actress Arletty. He opened his own maison in 1979.
Mr. Alaïa introduced his first ready-to-wear collection in 1980 and was soon hailed as “the king of cling” — though his garments were much more than that: He used leather and knits to shape and support the body, transforming it into the best version of itself. He eschewed external decoration for internal integrity, weaving pattern and adornment into the weft of the garment itself in ways that were almost undetectable to the outside eye.

Styles from the Alaïa ready-to-wear collection for Spring 2014. CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
Celebratory of feminine physicality without falling into the trap of exploiting it, his work coincided with and helped create the supermodel phenomenon. His shows, rarely publicized, without any of the bells and whistles that now are now de rigueur, were nevertheless among the most influential and jam-packed.
He didn’t care, and people were often kept waiting for hours until he was ready.
“He’s an artist at the end of the day, and he doesn’t have any sense of time,” said Ms. Campbell in Mr. McKenna’s film. “I remember [at model] Stephanie Seymour’s wedding, at the reception after the church wedding, and he was still stitching our bridesmaids dresses. He cannot let it be seen until it is completely finished.”
Though his aesthetic fell out of fashion with the advent of deconstructed minimalism in the 1990s, Mr. Alaïa never allowed himself to be distracted by the pressures of others, and by the year 2000 acolytes began returning to his atelier, a complex of buildings on Rue de Moussy in the Fourth Arrondissement, where he lived, worked and cooked (and later opened a three-apartment hotel). They were drawn by both his work and what he stood for: independent thought in an industry ruled by trend.
Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Mr. Alaïa’s clothes was their timelessness; they could be worn for decades, because they were not rooted in any identifiable season. As Artforum wrote in a review of a retrospective at the Palais Galliera and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2013: “The 40 decades of Alaïa’s work shown here reveals no defining trends, only an increasing interest in the refinement of technique, a kind of reverse neoclassicist ethos that lends soft flesh and airy fabric the smooth, uncanny weightiness of sculpture.”
Prada bought a stake in the business (later sold back to Mr. Alaïa), allowing it to become a force in accessories. In 2002 a number of Yves Saint Laurent’s former couture staff joined Alaïa after Mr. Saint Laurent’s retirement, including the heads of the tailoring and dressmaking ateliers.
In 2007, Compagnie Financière Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that also owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, became a significant investor, confirming Alaïa as an industry jewel and allowing it to expand at its own pace. A perfume was introduced and store expansion planned, and by last year Mr. Alaïa had more than 300 points of sale globally. His closest collaborator was Carla Sozzani, owner of the influential boutique 10 Corso Como.
Nevertheless, at a time when designers are more often called “chief creative officers,” and have teams of people to interpret and realize their ideas, Mr. Alaïa continued to oversee every garment, and every detail, himself, often without stopping for weekends or vacations.
“He did everything with his hands,” said the stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele in the documentary. Though he had a house in Tunisia on the sea, he rarely managed to visit, because he was always working.
Beyond the runway, Mr. Alaïa created work for the ballet and the opera, began holding art exhibitions in 2004 in the space that also houses his showroom (regular programming began in 2015 with an exhibition by the Syrian poet Adonis) and was planning a bookstore.
He is survived by his partner, the painter Christoph von Weyhe; and nieces and nephews.
Mr. Alaïa returned to the couture calendar in July after six years. In the audience were Jack Lang, the former French minister of culture; Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, former first lady of France (and one-time Alaïa model); Isabelle Huppert, the actress; Marc Newson, the industrial designer; and Fabrice Hergott, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
Mr. Alaïa had become the equivalent of a national treasure, and everyone was there to honor him.


Azzedine Alaïa (Arabicعز الدين عليّة‎French pronunciation: ​[azedin alaˈja], pronunciation: Alaya) (26 February 1940 – 18 November 2017) was a Tunisian-born couturier and shoe designer, particularly successful beginning in the 1980s.
Alaïa was born in TunisTunisia, on 26 February 1940.[1] His parents were wheat farmers, but his glamorous twin sister inspired his love for couture.[2] A French friend of his mother fed Alaïa's instinctive creativity with copies of Vogue. He lied about his age[3] to get himself into the local École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis, where he gained valuable insights into the human form and began studying sculpture.[4]

After his graduation, Alaïa began working as a dressmaker's assistant. He soon began dressing private clients, and in 1957 he moved to Paris to work in fashion design. In Paris, he started to work at Christian Dior as a tailleur, but had to leave five days later as the Algerian war broke out,[5] soon moved to work for Guy Laroche for two seasons, then for Thierry Mugler until he opened his first atelier in his little rue de Bellechasse apartment the late 1970s.[2] It is in this tiny atelier that for almost 20 years he privately dressed members of the world's jet set, from Marie-Hélène de Rothschild to Louise de Vilmorin(who would become a close friend) to Greta Garbo, who used to come incognito for her fittings. He produced his first ready-to-wear collection in 1980 and moved to larger premises on rue du Parc-Royal in the Marais district. Alaïa was voted Best Designer of the Year and Best collection of the Year at the Oscars de la Mode by the French Ministry of Culture in 1984[5] in a memorable event where Jamaican singer Grace Jones carried him in her arms on stage.His career skyrocketed when two of the most powerful fashion editors of the time, Melka Tréanton of Depeche Mode and Nicole Crassat of French Elle, supported him in their editorials.[6][7][8] In 1980, while interior designer Andrée Putman was walking down Madison Avenue with one of the first Alaïa leather coats, she was stopped by a Bergdorf Goodman buyer who asked her what she was wearing, which began a turn of events that lead to his designs being sold in New York City and in Beverly Hills.[4] By 1988 he had opened his own boutiques in these two cities and in Paris. His seductive, clinging clothes were a massive success and he was named by the media 'The King of Cling'. Devotees included both fashion-inclined celebrities and fashionistas: Grace Jones (wearing several of his creations in A View to a Kill), Tina Turner, Raquel Welch, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Brigitte Nielsen, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Tatiana Sorokko, Shakira, Franca Sozzani, Isabelle Aubin, Carine Roitfeld, and Carla Sozzani.

During the mid-1990s, following the death of his sister, Alaïa virtually vanished from the fashion scene; however, he continued to cater to a private clientele and enjoyed commercial success with his ready-to-wear lines.[4] He presented his collections in his own space, in the heart of the Marais, where he brought his creative workshop, boutique and showroom together under one roof.[2]
In 1996 he participated at the Biennale della Moda in Florence, where along with paintings by longtime friend Julian Schnabel, he exhibited an outstanding dress created for the event. Schnabel-designed furniture, as well as his large-scale canvases, still decorate Alaïa's boutique in Paris.[citation needed]
He then signed a partnership with the Prada group in 2000. Working with Prada saw him through a second impressive renaissance, and in July 2007, he successfully bought back his house and brand name from the Prada group, though his footwear and leather goods division continues to be developed and produced by the group.[2] In 2007 the Richemont group, which owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, took a stake in his fashion house but he still does not show during the collections.[9]
However, Alaïa still refused the marketing-driven logic of luxury conglomerates, continuing to focus on clothes rather than "it-bags". Alaïa is revered for his independence and passion for discreet luxury. Catherine Lardeur, the former editor-in-chief of French Marie Claire in the 1980s, who also helped to launch Jean-Paul Gaultier's career, stated in an interview to Crowd Magazine that "Fashion is dead. Designers nowadays do not create anything, they only make clothes so people and the press would talk about them. The real money for designers lie within perfumes and handbags. It is all about image. Alaïa remains the king. He is smart enough to not only care about having people talk about him. He only holds fashion shows when he has something to show, on his own time frame. Even when Prada owned him he remained free and did what he wanted to do."[10]  On 18 November 2017, it was announced Alaia had died in Paris. He was 77 years old.[11][12]
Vogue editor Edward Enninful stated that "Azzedine Alaïa was a true visionary, and a remarkable man. He will be deeply missed by all of those who knew and loved him, as well as by the women around the world who wore his clothes."[12]  
Alaïa was honored with a solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands in 1998, which debuted at the Guggenheim Museum in New York[3] in 2000 and curated by Mark Wilson and Jim Cook. In the United States, his clothes are available at Barneys New York alongside LanvinBalenciaga, and Dolce & Gabbana, and his shoes are sold at Bergdorf GoodmanCarine Roitfeld was photographed during February 2007 Fashion Week in one of his coats, with the New York Times declaring that she was the only woman at any of the fall 2007 shows that "looked like the future." Victoria Beckham stated that Alaïa is her favourite designer and wore the designer's work, a gift from husband David Beckham, to two Academy Award parties in February 2007.
Alaïa was referenced in the mid-'90s teen hit Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone. Silverstone's character, mugged at gunpoint in the film, protests kneeling in a parking lot in a famously clingy dress by the "totally important designer" by exclaiming, "This is an Alaïa!"
Marion Cotillard wore an Alaïa gown in a photoshoot for the French issue of Elle magazine in May 2005. In June 2009, she wore an Alaïa black dress for a photoshoot for the French magazine Madame Figaro. In March 2010, she wore a black Alaïa dress in a photoshoot for Jalouse magazine. On 27 November 2012, she wore an Alaïa black and white pleated dress while attending a luncheon for her film Rust and Bone at Brasserie Ruhlmann in New York City. Cotillard also attended a screen talk at the BFI Southbank wearing the same dress.[13]
Michelle Obama is a regular Alaïa client.[14] The The First Lady wore a formal black knit sleeveless dress with a ruffled skirt designed by Alaïa to the NATO dinner with heads of state in Strasbourg, France, on 3 April 2009. Also in 2009, Michelle Obama wore an Alaïa dress to the American Ballet Theatre's opening-night Spring Gala in New York.[15] Her choice of fashion by the Tunisian couturier broke with the tradition of American First Ladies who had worn only the clothes of American designers to such events.[16]
The former First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, also wore an Alaïa jacket during the state visit to Spain in 2009. Rachel Alig wore Alaïa dresses as her character Mary Magdalene aka "Red" in Paul McCarthy's 2016 film CSSC ("Coach Stage Stage Coach").
Madonna also honored him in her 1993 "Bad Girl" video. She rips the plastic off her dry cleaned suit in which the tag reads "Alaïa."
Azzedine Alaïa was named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur by the French government in 2008.[17]
Lady Gaga has also worn several of his creations, notably in her Thanksgiving special, when she wore a long Fall 2011 dress.
Rihanna has worn his creations as well, notably at the 2013 Grammys.
During an interview with The GROUND Social & Magazine (formerly known as Virgine), Alaïa slammed both Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. Alaïa, then 71 and based in Paris, said of Chanel creative director Lagerfeld, "I don't like his fashion, his spirit, his attitude. It's too much caricature. Karl Lagerfeld never touched a pair of scissors in his life." Alaïa also lashed out at the Vogue editor-in-chief: "She runs the business very well, but not the fashion part. When I see how she is dressed, I don't believe in her tastes one second....Anyway, who will remember Anna Wintour in the history of fashion? No one." [18]