LONDON — When Azzedine Alaïa died suddenly in Paris last November, he left behind not just his brand but two major unfinished projects: an exhibition at the Design Museum and a new store in Mayfair.
In the last two weeks both of them have finally come to fruition, and the results are testaments to the career of the Tunisian-born designer, a kind of continuing conversation from beyond the grave.
In April, a 6,000-square-foot three-story flagship store opened on New Bond Street — the brand’s third store and its first outside Paris. Designed by Mr. Alaïa, the boutique is light, airy and furnished with bespoke pieces from artists and designers like Naoto Fukasawa, Piero Lissoni and Pierre Paulin, the better to showcase the ready-to-wear, accessories and cosmetics on display.
And this week, at the Design Museum, the doors opened on a major new exhibition on Mr. Alaïa’s life, work and design legacy, co-curated by him in the months before his death.
“We were 90 percent of the way there with our plans and knew exactly what we still had to do,” said Mark Wilson, an American who is chief curator of the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, and Mr. Alaïa’s co-curator on the show. The two men were good friends for more than two decades, though neither could speak the other’s first language.
“When he died, we were all adamant that we shouldn’t change anything about the way he had planned it and that the exhibit should go ahead on schedule,” Mr. Wilson said. “We all wanted to keep going for Azzedine.”
On display in “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” alongside black and white photographs, short films, quotes and timelines, are 60 of Mr. Alaïa’s most influential designs, largely grouped by design technique. These include the designer’s initial explorations of structured volume in the 1980s, a series of his signature body-conscious densely knit tricot dresses, and a trio of his famous flamenco dresses from 2011, embroidered in bright metallic layers.
A 2003 couture version of the long black fitted dress around which twists a seemingly endless zipper,memorably first worn by Naomi Campbell in 1987, is a true showstopper, as is a shimmering purple hooded dress with a train that spills across the mirrored floor, once worn by Grace Jones.
The show begins and ends with several of Mr. Alaïa’s final works, including a collared chain mail evening gown with wafer-thin black chiffon pleats that was finished by his studio after his death.
“He absolutely loved doing exhibits like this; it wasn’t so much work to him as a little bit of extra fun on top of his collections,” Mr. Wilson said, adding that, to fit the plastic mannequins used for the show, Mr. Alaïa remade each garment in an elongated silhouette and then fit themall to the displays.
Dividing the room and its installations are a series of five screens, each almost 33 feet tall, especially commissioned for the show to highlight the sculptural quality and extraordinary form of Mr. Alaïa’s garments. Friends of the designer, including the industrial designer Marc Newson and the artist Kris Ruhs, were asked to imagine the backdrops; indeed, during his lifetime, Mr. Alaïa collected the works of all the contributors.
For Mr. Alaïa, as this show makes clear, his work and his life (and his stores and his exhibitions) were simply different expressions of the same aesthetic approach to the world.
“The finished show is, I think, totally in line with his vision for the exhibit,” Mr. Wilson said, standing amid the result of their labors. “It is a current artistic installation rather than just a retrospective of the past. ”
Indeed, on Wednesday night, at an opening party at the museum attended by Mr. Alaïa’s closest friends and collaborators, many spoke not so much sadly or mournfully but rather fondly of a man of ferocious curiosity and meticulous attention to detail, always determined to do things his way, from cutting each of his own designs to ignoring the traditional fashion calendar.
Carla Sozzani, the Italian editor, gallerist and retailer who was one of Mr. Alaïa’s closest collaborators, laughed as she looked at a simple strapless black dress. “Azzedine called it the Carla dress, because I was fired from Italian Elle when I wanted to put that dress on a cover,” she said. “He was so delighted and proud, of me.”
Ms. Sozzani added that the designer was always planning to safeguard the future of his house.
“He really wanted his work to continue. He wanted his work to keep on going, he became totally passionate about it towards the end of his life,” she said. “Azzedine, the man, knew he would die. But he was always determined that his unique design legacy would live on.”
Elizabeth Paton is a reporter for the Styles section, covering the fashion and luxury sectors in Europe. Before joining The Times in 2015, she was a reporter at the Financial Times both in London and New York.@LizziePaton