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Besides a Lanvin dress and a Chanel purse, I also dream of one day owning a frock by Tunisian-born fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa. I’ve read all about how his clothes flatter the female body like nothing else, how he executes his designs with exacting precision, and how legions of stylish celebrities (everyone from Stephanie Seymour to Sofia Coppola) are loyal fans. He’s also opening his first store in twenty years, but it’s in Paris. My chances of paying a visit next spring? Close to zero.

So during my recent trip to San Francisco, I stopped by the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Union Square. And there, swaying lightly near the second floor landing, were a handful of pristine Alaïa dresses. Major swoon—over their beauty as well as their four-figure price tags.

Exquisite cut and construction. And the fabric is substantial enough to hug you in all the right ways.

Soft muted perfection by the “King of Cling.”

The quiet gracefulness of the stretch knit dresses reminded me of these crocheted wire sculptures at the de Young Museum a few days later. Renowned Japanese-American artist and native Californian Ruth Asawa created the pieces from iron, copper, and brass wire. She considers them “three-dimensional drawings.” I love how the shadows that each sculpture projects onto the walls become an integral part of the experience.

Untitled works, ca. 1960-1969, copper and brass wire.

Untitled, 1955–1959, galvanized steel and copper wire.

Both Alaïa and Asawa are masters of strength and delicacy. (That’s a powerful combination in a personality too.) A girl can still dream…

Saks Fifth Avenue | 384 Post Street | San Francisco, CA  94108 | 415.986.4300 |

Ms. Asawa’s work is part of the museum’s permanent collection.

de Young Museum | Golden Gate Park | 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive | San Francisco, CA 94118 | 415.750.3600 |

Update on Aug. 18, 2013: Ruth Asawa died on August 6, 2013 at the age of 87. Her obituary in the New York Times details her extraordinary, inspirational life.

Update on Oct. 30, 2013: Check out Azzedine Alaïa’s new boutique in Paris.