The Modern Sophisticate
Yigal Azrouel brings his latest collection of luxury ready-to-wear to Saint Louis Fashion Week.
From his full-service atelier in New York’s Garment District, Yigal Azrouel churns out high-quality fashion designed to delight the style-conscious consumer, impressing the international fashion set with a mature collection and enviable edge. Next month, he brings his highly anticipated work to the runways of Saint Louis Fashion Week—in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue—where he is slated to show on Oct. 16 at Union Station alongside nationally recognized designers Timo Weiland and Tess Giberson.
The Israeli-born American designer is not only a man of style himself, but the creator of a collection of modern, edgy and sophisticated duds that are the apples of many a fashionista’s eye. Since launching his brand in 1998, the designer’s looks have been featured on the pages of major national and international fashion publications (including InStyle, W and Harper’s Bazaar), on celebrities (such as Halle Berry and Natalie Portman) and on the runways of New York and beyond. His take on a woman’s everyday look has assisted in the modernization of classic fashion, bringing staple items and wardrobe necessities back into the limelight.
His passion for both quality and style is evident. Since the inception of his brand, the designer has been pushing the limits of both high-end and contemporary fashion, and it shows. His progression has an obvious emphasis on powerful details, proportion, fabrications and architectural shape—it’s a signature style that Azrouel cultivated long before his first collection hit the runways.
The youngest of eight children, Azrouel grew up in the port city of Ashdod where he fell in love with the leisurely beach lifestyle. His taste for fashion developed organically. After moving to the US in 1996, Azrouel—despite not being able to afford design school—began building his brand from the ground up. From a small studio in the Garment District, Azrouel recruited a single seamstress and created a 12-piece collection of matte jersey dresses, which he sold to upscale retailer Fred Segal. Soon after, his career took off. He began his participation in New York Fashion Week in 2000; by 2003, he had opened his first boutique; and in 2004, Azrouel was inducted into the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). “My career is so rewarding because I am doing what I love,” he says. “When you do that, your career never feels like work; you enjoy the time you put in.”
Presently, Azrouel is designing a womenswear line, in addition to the contemporary brand he launched in 2010, Cut25. But his aesthetic and commitment to creating high-impact fashion goes beyond the design room. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the brand is the designer’s commitment to keeping a large portion of his production in the US: More than 70 percent of his work is still produced in New York’s Garment District. “It’s hugely important because we get to support local business, and it also allows me to be present for all of the stages of production—from the inception of the design to the finished product,” Azrouel explains.
Additionally, each piece of his collection is fit to sizes 0-12, a rarity among designers of his caliber. “Women work so hard to look good, you know? So I want to work on proportion and length,” he told W Magazine. “My vision is not about fantasy; it’s about reality. I design for women, and I have my eyes on what I want you to look like.”
For the past several seasons, Azrouel has moved beyond jersey knits to encompass a new realm of fabrications outside the fashion box. Wool, leather, embellishment and tailoring are now staples in all of his cool weather collections—Fall/Winter 2012, in particular, brought a refreshed perspective to the Yigal Azrouel silhouette.
Known for his sassy assortment of body-hugging dresses, Azrouel introduced a more demure, modest woman who perhaps had something to hide. Of his inspiration for the Franc?oise Hardy collection, the designer told Style.com: “There was an attitude with her, even when she was out in public, that there was a part of herself she kept hidden.”
The next year of gear brought shape-shifting slacks, wool anoraks and parkas, and an influx of zipper details took the collection to a new level of maturity. Neutrals with pops of rich green leather, thick knits and utilitarian details are key pieces that set the collection apart as one of modern luxury.
On a lighter note, Azrouel’s Spring/Summer collections have very literally given a spring to our step. For SS13, his simple silhouettes in a mostly neutral color palette had us channeling our inner “Eat, Pray, Love.” Hooded accessories, slip dresses and open knits prevailed over the complex cuts of seasons past.
This year, that simplicity and sleekness was replaced with clean-cut tailoring. Critics raved that Azrouel had found the perfect mix of polished and body conscious basics-that-aren’t-basic. Gaucho pants, cut-out tops, off kilter blazers—all were familiar, yet happily quintessential Azrouel.
For tickets to the STLFW Designer Show-case featuring Yigal Azrouel, Tess Giberson and Timo Weiland, visit stlfw.com.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Yigal Azrouel