Alaia bare back top from the 1980s
Marie Helvin Collection
£395

Alaia body con figure hugging dress from the 1980s
Marie Helvin Collection
£550

Few designers know a woman’s body as well as Alaia. That’s his reference point, his beginning and his end. His genius comes out in the pattern-making, cutting, fitting and pressing, all of which he does himself. No designer is more influential at the moment: Witness the number of celebrities paying homage to his style as well as his integrity. Breaking the tradition of American first ladies typically, though not exclusively, wearing American fashion, Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless knit dress by the Paris legend Azzedine Alaia to a dinner in Germany.