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A look at Pieter Mulier, Alaia’s new creative director

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Three years from his death, Azzedine Alaïa lives on. That is, through his namesake fashion label, which has just named Pieter Mulier as creative director.

Who? Despite the big role he’s filling, Mulier will likely be an unfamiliar name to most. Until now, the Belgian designer has enjoyed a low-key presence. He has neither started his own label nor taken part in the great musical chairs of fashion, shuffling from the helm of one big fashion brand to the next.

And yet the newly christened Alaïa designer boasts years of experience at labels like Christian DiorCalvin Klein and Jil Sander under his belt — all thanks to Raf Simons, whom he has worked closely with for the last two decades.

Mulier, a former architecture student, began his fashion career in 2002 as an intern at Simons’ eponymous label. He was promoted to head designer the next year, serving as Simons’ right hand for the creation of the brand’s collections. Following the cult success of Simons’ label, the two Belgian designers soon became a creative force for the fashion world to reckon with.

We already know the trajectory that Raf Simons’ legendary fashion career took: in 2005, he was hired at Jil Sander, where he revitalised the minimalist German fashion brand with a sense of modernity; he left in 2012 to take over Christian Dior, overseeing the Maison’s women’s couture and ready-to-wear collections for three years. In 2016, he would reemerge later at Calvin Klein, serving a short-lived stint as chief creative officer of the American brand.

What’s lesser known is that Mulier followed that same path, consulting on the collections that Simons worked on. He even had a cameo in Dior and I, the 2014 documentary that offered a behind-the-scenes look at how Simons designed his first Dior haute couture collection.

Designers Raf Simons (L) and Pieter Mulier walk the runway at the Calvin Klein show at New York Fashion Week in February 2017. Image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Between his time working within the hallowed halls of the Dior atelier, and his close collaboration with Simons, who has made nods to the likes of Cristóbal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy in his work, Mulier is certainly qualified for his new role.

The Tunisian-born Azzedine Alaïa made his mark with his hyper-feminine designs, which the French fashion federation officially recognised as haute couture thanks to their complex construction. Mulier is expected to lead the late couturier’s label with the same fastidiousness.

“Pieter stands out with remarkable technical talent and devotion to the craft, a sharp eye for construction and a sense of timeless beauty that is deeply ingrained in the creative approach of our Maison,” shared Myriam Serrano, CEO of Maison Alaïa. “He combines these qualities with keen intellect, true generosity and unwavering humanity.”

Is a new era of haute couture upon us? We’ll see the results at Paris Fashion Week this September, when Mulier shows his first Maison Alaïa collection for Spring/Summer 2022. It is one of the many anticipated fashion debuts of the months ahead: Demna Gvasalia will also be showing his first haute couture collection for Balenciaga in July, while Gabriela Hearst, Chloé’s new creative director, will present her first ready-to-wear collection for the French label in March.

Header photo credit: Pierre Debusschere, courtesy of 254 Forest

 

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