When new designers move into an established fashion house, they can either play things safe or come out swinging. As the incoming artistic directors at Azzaro, Arnaud Maillard and Alvaro Castejón have made clear their intent to return the brand to its glory days.
For their first collection, they zeroed in on the cherry blossom, or sakura, but instead of capturing its fragility, they gave it technical dimension and Technicolor impact—whether in stitched raffia with a glittery core, as raised leather petals lifting off the back of a white Perfecto, or as Plexi blooms on a body-skimming tulle gown. The last number was a deliberate reinterpretation of the famous dress worn by Jane Birkin in 1972, its strategically placed metal flower bits defining Azzaro's flashy, feminine spirit. The house's familiar crystals turned up in a myriad of ways: creating graphic contours on cocktail dresses and decorating column gowns in "flame"-like insets.
Maillard called the new Azzaro girl a "luxury nomad," someone who goes from red carpet to philanthropic dinner, Dubai to
Saint-Tropez. She can never have enough dresses, nor can she risk being seen in the same one as someone else. Loris Azzaro (who died in 2003) would have been sensitive to this pageantry. Were he alive today, it's likely he would have given Maillard and Castejón his blessing.