Déjà Vu: Slash This, Copy That

Many years ago, in a land not so far away, two designers went head to head in a controversy over bandages.

The era was the ’80s. The land was Paris. The designers were Azzedine Alaïa and Hervé Léger. The bandages in question were in the form of dresses.

Léger worked for Alaïa (although this isn’t listed in the current bio on the Hervé website) and Alaïa claimed he copied his designs.

I will let you make up your own mind, but I distinctly recall the Tunisian designer, otherwise known as the “King of Cling”, being adored by the Supes.

Supermodels in Azzedina Alaia in Elle Magazine 1990 on exshoesme.com
Supes of the day: Naomi, Christy, Linda, Beverly and more.

I remember Naomi and Yasmin Le Bon in his stretch dresses – and I dreamed of adding one of those numbers to my own closet. I think I bought a clinging skirt in a mushroom tone, only because I saw Christy wearing that dress above. The skirt wasn’t an Alaïa (it would have taken a lot of student work hours to afford one at the time) – so it just wasn’t the same.

Azzedine Alaia with Supermodels on exshoesme.com
Monsieur Alaïa (amongst the Glamazons including Yaz Le Bon and Gail Elliott) is a giant in so many ways.

Well, Monsieur Léger, who created those bandage dresses under his own label in the ’80s to much success, lost control of his company and the right to use his name in the late ’90s. The Hervé Léger website says that the BCBG Max Azria Group bought it in1998 and Léger, who now runs a successful design business under Hervé L. Leroux says it was 1999, according to his own website.

Herve-L-Leroux-Paris-Window by Jyotika Malhotra on exshoesme.com
I spotted the Leroux boutique while out for a Parisian stroll in St. Germain de Prés.

The Leroux label specializes in bandage dresses made from jersey, that drape and pleat. Incidentally, I took a photo of the Leroux shop in St. Germain, on a visit to Paris in 2009 and this green dress caught my eye.

Herve-L-Leroux-Green-Dress in his Paris Boutique Window by Jyotika Malhotra on exshoesme.com
The perfect green - it stood out amongst the otherwise black and white windows.

The Léger label, now designed by Max Azria, still specializes in bandage dresses to this day.

I actually came across one of their dresses via The Outnet today and it reminded me of a pair of Alaïa boots I had seen on the same site a few weeks ago. From memory, I thought they were somewhat similar and that I must have gotten the designers confused – both of them surely had to be by the same company.

Alaia Slashed Suede Boot on exshoesme.com
The boot.
Herve Leger by Max Azria Monique Cutout Bandage Dress2 on exshoesme.com
The dress.

When I looked again, I found that the boots are indeed by Alaïa and the dress is Léger.

Alaia Slashed Suede Boots on exshoesme.com
The Alaïa boot.
Herve Leger by Max Azria Monique Cutout Bandage Dress on exshoesme.com
The Léger dress.
Alaia Slashed Suede Boots Detail on exshoesme.com
The Alaïa boot slash.
Herve Leger by Max Azria Monique Cutout Bandage Dress Detail on exshoesme.com
The Léger dress slash.

It wasn’t until I was trying to find a vintage Alaïa photo for this post, that I realized Niki Taylor is wearing a longer version of the Alaïa slash bandage dress in it! Naomi and Linda also have one on in the original photo above (with actual skin – not skin-tone fabric showing through the slashes).

Azzedine Alaia with Supermodels on exshoesme.com
Niki's Alaïa dress at first glance/slash, back in the '80s.

Talk about a full-circle déjà vu!

Images: Leroux shop photos taken by Yours Truly, Paris, 2009.

Léger Dress and Alaïa Boots from The Outnet; Alaia and models image courtesy of YasminLeBon.net; Elle image courtesy The Fashion Spot.

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