'King of Cling' fashion designer Azzedine Alaia dies at 77

PARIS - Tunisian-born fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, who dressed stars from Greta Garbo to Grace Jones and Lady Gaga, died in Paris at the age of 77, the French Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion said on Saturday.

The designer was a star of the Paris fashion world in the 1980s and 1990s, when models Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell strode down the catwalks in his trademark figure-hugging designs.

Dubbed the "King of Cling", his dresses were worn by former US first lady Michele Obama, pop singer Madonna and French actress Marion Cotillard.

Born into a farming family in Tunis in 1940, Alaia - who always wore black - started out in French fashion houses Christian Dior, Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler but after setting up his own firm he rarely took part in the Paris Fashion Weeks.

"A small man but huge in the world of fashion," French model Inès de la Fressange wrote on Twitter.

UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay, a former French culture minister, said Alaia was a "genius weaving links between fashion, architecture and sculpture, creating dresses to highlight women's bodies".