The photo that portrays them together, shared yesterday by the voice of I’m not a lady on social media to remember the great one Tina Turner, who died on Wednesday in Zurich at the age of 83 after a long illness, was taken in Milan almost forty years ago. It was September 1984. Loredana Berte and Tina Turner had met a few days earlier in Riva del Garda. It was enough for the two lionesses to sniff each other for a few seconds to recognize each other alike, and not only for the voice, characterized by that scratch that had made Tina Turner the “queen of rock’n’roll” and Loredana Bertè a sort of Italian equivalent of her . Even if one, Tina, was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, on the other side of the Atlantic, eleven years before the other, Loredana, who was born instead in Bagnara Calabra, a former seaside village bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. “I will never forget that meeting and the days spent in Milan with Azzedine,” says Loredana Bertè.
Forgive me, but who is Azzedine?
«Azzedine Alaïa, of course. One of the most famous and influential designers in the history of fashion (he passed away in 2017, ed) ».
And what does that have to do with her and Tina Turner?
«If Tina and I started talking, in the lift of the hotel in Riva del Garda, it was thanks to a jacket designed by Alaïa that she was wearing. Nobody knew him. Except me and Cesare Zucca, who was my stylist at the time, before going to Los Angeles to work for Madonna».
Let’s take a step back. What were you both doing in Riva del Garda, in that September of 1984?
«We were both guests at a festival that was one of the fixed live music events of the summer, the Vela d’oro. It took place in September, at the end of the season, to reward the successes of the year. Tina Turner was promoting her hit What’s Love Got To Do With It?. At the time it often happened that world music stars came to Italy to promote. The album Private Dancer was already out, an instant commercial success that gave Tina what was Tina’s. The following year she would win three Grammy Awards for What’s Love Got To Do With It?. I, on the other hand, that year at the Vela d’oro I performed with Ragazzo mio and Una sera che raine to promote Savoir Faire, the third album of the trilogy written and produced by Ivano Fossati after Traslocando from ’82 and Jazz from ’83» .
So you were together in the elevator. And she struck up the button talking about Alaïa’s jacket. And then?
“She was with her manager at the time. When I mentioned Azzedine Alaïa, Tina’s eyes widened: “How do you know him?” she asked me. I replied: “If she knows you’ve put on one of her jackets, she’ll go crazy”. “No, I’m going crazy,” she retorted. When I told her I could put them in touch, she went mad with joy.’
Alaïa when did she meet him?
“During a trip I had made some time before to Paris. We had become friends.”
How did it go with Tina?
«That evening in the elevator he immediately asked the manager: “How soon will I be free from touring and promotion?”. And that: “I think in no less than two years”. Then he turned to me and Cesare: “When are you going to Milan?”. We were leaving two days later. “I’m coming with you,” he replied.”
And did he?
«Yes. She left with us. Once in Milan, Cesare and I called Azzedine. From that moment on, Alaïa only dressed Tina Turner, even ditching Grace Jones, who she had advised up to then and who didn’t take it very well (laughs) ».
How has Tina Turner been a source of inspiration for you?
«For his experience. His grit. His style. And then for his ability to always reinvent himself. She was a phoenix like me. A survivor. She was quintessential rock. It is no coincidence that they nicknamed her the “queen of rock’n’roll”: she had all the characteristics of her ».
«That powerful and scratchy voice, to be envied. And then energy and sensuality, as well as an explosive personality. She has been a great inspiration to all of us as an artist and as a woman. An out of the ordinary talent: simply The Best».
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