At last night's Fashion Awards ceremony, Naomi Campbell read a moving speech in memory of the late Azzedine Alaïa, cult French couturier and her close friend, known to her as "Papa." Together with her on the stage was an army of other supermodels who worked with Alaïa — all wearing his designs. Among them were Stephanie Seymour, Imaan Hammam, Veronica Webb, Maricarla Boscono, and Marie-Sophie Wilson. With this gesture they wanted to show that Alaïa's skill and his ideas of femininity will continue to live on after his passing. Read Naomi's full speech below.
"Everyone in this room knows that Azzedine was able to transform a woman's body into something special — make you look great and still like a woman. He captured the essence of femininity. But beyond his work as a designer, from the second day I met him, he became my papa.
He was the most generous, kind, compassionate and humble man I have ever known, with a mischievous sense of humor in the glint of his eye, and he filled my life in the room. I moved to his home at 16 and he opened my eyes to the world: to artists, art and design, architecture, French, and Tunisian culture. How blessed was I to have papa show me these different worlds?
Imagine being put on Concorde and sent to New York at 16 years old, to work with Steven Meisel for American Vogue, dressed head to toe in Alaïa — it was not reality. He never did advertising: he always said that we were his advertising.
Back in the day, our fridges were not stuffed with food: we bought what we ate on a daily basis and if there was one [egg] left in his fridge, papa would offer it to me to make an omelette. There is no man who understood me like him, or who saw me in the way that he did. Always when I was with him he would make me feel like my 16-year-old self-and without him, I would not be the woman I am.
He protected me in every way possible—- even when I was attacked in Paris in 2012, papa came rushing out to stand in front of my attacker while I was pulled to safety. Azzedine was a protector, a teacher, a seeker and defender of all that is good and positive in this world. I am proud to honor, along with his daughters, a giant of fashion and a true master of humanity."