Naomi Campbell delivered a moving tribute to the late Azzedine Alaia at the 2017 Fashion Awards on Monday night. The British supermodel took to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the fashion event, where she gave a speech about the Tunisian-born couturier, whom she first met as a 16-year-old and affectionately called "papa". Surrounded by several of Alaia's favourite models, including Stephanie Seymour, Farida Khelfa and Veronica Webb, Campbell started by emphasising how he had assumed the role of father figure and mentor to her when she was starting out in the industry.
"He was the most generous, kind, compassionate and humble man I have ever known, with a mischievous sense of humour in the glint of his eye, and he filled my life - and the lives of the women on this stage, and all of you in the room who met him - with light and joy," she said. "I moved into his home at 16 and he opened my eyes to the world."
Naomi Campbell paid tribute to Azzedine Alaia at the star-studded 2017 Fashion Awards
Alaia produced his first ready-to-wear collection in 1980, with his curve-hugging designs snapped up by the likes of Grace Jones and Madonna. And throughout his career, Alaia never advertised his brand, a fact Campbell praised as unprecedented in the business. "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," the 47-year-old shared. "He never did advertising: he always said that we were his advertising."
Naomi concluded her speech by noting that Alaia acted as her "protector" throughout her career, and even rushed to her aid to stand in front of a possible attacker during an incident in Paris back in 2012. Other fashion names to be honoured during the event included Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri, who received the Swarovski Award for Positive Change, and Donatella Versace, who took home the Fashion Icon prize.