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Azzaro Gets Catty for Its Return to Couture



Perhaps it was pure coincidence that Arnaud Maillard and Álvaro Castejón created this Azzaro Couture collection—the first the house has shown in thirty years—around the theme of felines. The iconic French house has shown a nine-lives resilience ever since its founder passed away more than a decade ago. It also allowed the designers to push a fierce message that played to their strength of sexy eveningwear.

Backstage, the designers introduced their woman-as-panther, pushing the visual pun to extremes with sequined-rimmed cutouts like cat scratches and bejeweled claw markings. As a follow-up to the success of their black dress from Spring ’14—the one with sheer strips running like a tributary down the front and back that flung actress Jaimie Alexander into the spotlight when she wore it last November—they introduced a new iteration with precise paneling that was marginally less suggestive. “There was a before and an after,” said Castejón, still astonished that the dress generated so much buzz—and, in turn, so many custom orders.


Reams of mousseline and chiffon cascading from fitted bodices would suggest that the Azzaro minx of today remains faithful to a look of yesteryear. But the further the surface detail strayed from the feline narrative—glossy black seed beads were actually springy placements of silicone or mirrored geometric bits—the closer the looks came to feeling of the moment.

As Maillard and Castejón readied their girls for the runway, they wore white felt gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on the plated belts that reined in georgette caftans or gave superhero emphasis to jumpsuits. In Azzaro tradition, they bestowed every look with a name from a single letter of the alphabet: R (as in “Reuben” for a white Perfecto with a skirt of fox fur). That letter also conjures up words like respect and risk—and the designers are attempting to establish a balance between the two. But there’s one more word that should be their main focus going forward: relevance.

Photos: Courtesy Photos

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