EXCLUSIVE: Maison Alaïa Adds ‘Relax’ Line of Knit Bodywear

Miles Socha and Martino Carrera
·3 min read

Anointed the “king of cling” in the 1980s for his curve-hugging fashions, Azzedine Alaïa was never really associated with athleisure, activewear or bodywear, more recent industry monikers for leggings, bodysuits, cropped tops and the like.

Yet in 1992, for his spring collection, the Paris-based designer introduced knitwear using an innovative fabric from Florentine spinner Lineapiù vaunted as the “yarn of serenity” for its stretch features and purported calming effect.

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Now, more than three years after the death of its founder, the Maison Alaïa is again working with Lineapiù, whose sustainable viscose and carbon-fiber yarn is the basis for its new Relax collection, a 10-piece knit wardrobe launching today at Alaïa boutiques, its web store, and Net-a-porter.com.

It’s the latest product volley for the Compagnie Financière Richemont-owned fashion house, which in February named Pieter Mulier — the longtime right hand of designer Raf Simons — its new creative director, nudging the label away from rehashes of its archival designs the past few years.

In tandem with the launch of Relax knitwear, Alaïa is opening a treatment cabin later this month at its boutique at 5 Rue de Marignan in Paris for Martine de Richeville, inventor of a massage technique dubbed Remodelage for sculpting the body and ridding it of old cellulite. De Richeville operates treatment salons in Paris, Geneva, Brussels, London and at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.

Alaïa tapped two lithe and athletic women to represent the Relax line: ballet dancer Letizia Galloni of the Opéra de Paris, and Hajiba Fahmy, a contemporary dancer and choreographer who represented Alaïa at a digital event in November for The Editions line of archival styles.

The two women were photographed by Billy Ballard and filmed by Louis Evennou wearing taut warm-up jackets, high-waisted briefs, bra-like tops and leggings — all with seaming details, openwork and embroideries.

Thanks to its compressive quality, the knitwear “creates an overall feeling of well-being,” according to Alaïa, describing the second-skin garments as a “soft armor” designed to “hug, sheathe and enhance all body shapes, and accompany women in their movements.”

Available in black and garnet red, they are to retail from $1,160 for a cropped top to $4,480 for an “anti-stress” jumpsuit.

In an article dated Aug. 18, 1992, WWD noted that Alaïa had a yearlong exclusive on Lineapiù’s proprietary Relax fiber, then touted as “anti-shock and antipollution because it repels electromagnetic fields and radiation and acts as a protective lining.”

“Meeting and collaborating with Monsieur Alaïa has been the most extraordinary and fascinating experience,” Alessandro Bastagli, chief executive officer of Lineapiù Italia, told WWD on Wednesday. “We had the chance to work with a couturier that reinvented knitwear working on fluidity and construction like nobody before him has ever done. The outcome was one-of-a-kind pieces that exalt the wearability of the yarn and created a new aesthetic.”

A blend of rayon, nylon and carbon back then, today the Relax yarn is composed of 6 percent carbon fiber and 94 percent Enka viscose made of FSC-certified cellulose, sourced from wood obtained through sustainable forestry.

According to Lineapiù, the carbon fibers enhance the yarn’s comfort and provide a graphic effect. The spinner also markets a new yarn blending carbon fibers with organic cotton.

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