Antonio Azzuolo is a born tailor. He's on his firmest footing when he plays to his strength."There's a focus on what I do best, the tailored blazer and garment," he said at his sunny presentation this morning. Azzuolo's rope-shouldered, cropped blazers—the pieces, no doubt, that won him consideration for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize—were versions of what he's shown before, but none the worse for that. The basic precepts of suiting don't change, and part of the beauty of suit staples is that they're strong enough to be practically indestructible. Made correctly, in the kind of ateliers the designer worked at during his tenure at Hermès, they'll be literally indestructible, too. (Forget buy now, wear now; it's buy now, wear forever.) Azzuolo tipped his cap to the craftsman there by mimicking basting stitches on the fronts of some jackets. Squint, and they looked like a parody of pinstripes. Don't laugh. These could sell.
But Azzuolo couched the sartorial with what he called a street influence, amping up volume and emphasizing layering, the result of a recent trip to Japan. He introduced a series of sleeveless kimonos, which were layered under jackets and over loose shorts. It served as a reminder that there's an alternative narrative of suiting, too, one stranger, sportier, and occasionally sexier. Designers as disparate as Thom Browne, Scott Sternberg, and Kris Van Assche have helped to write it in the margins. It's not a surefire recipe for success. But even when it doesn't lead you to success, you stumble in distinguished company.