Yigal Azrouel

Society Shopping at Saks Bal Harbour

By Amanda Del Duca
Photos by David Heischrek

Yigal Azrouel (center), with Angelique Michelle,
Carol Phillips, Monica Suleski, Charmaine Campbell

Kelly Gold hosted a fabulous shopping event with fashion designer Yigal Azrouel at Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour. The event featured Azrouel’s spring 2010 collection and attendees had the opportunity to meet the designer while roaming models sampled looks.

Among those in attendance included Hollen Rosenberg, Jillian Jacobson-Altit and her mother Susan Jacobson, Ashlee Harrison, Jennifer Postrel, Cody & Katharine Fleischman, Joana Siegel, Charmaine Campbell, Shireen Sandoval and Monica Suleski.

SocialMiami sat down with the laid back designer – who was casually dressed in cotton twill drawstring pants, sandals and a classic American pullover shirt – to learn about his collection, celebrity fans, inspirations and plans for the future.

The collection is geometrical and structured but in super soft materials, creating beautiful signature pieces with a worn-in feel. Azrouel described the 2010 collection as more architectural in silhouette and shape than previous seasons. Playing with the tone of skin on the body and sheer fabrics, the texture created has an interesting architectural look. Azrouel added that this season’s dress proportion is shorter, perfect for sultry Miami weather!

With celebrity fans like Natalie Portman and Eva Mendes, Azrouël said he designs for people who appreciate fashion and that his philosophy is not what you wear but how you wear it. Star of the vampire movie Twilight, Kristen Stewart infamously wore a Yigal Azrouel black and red mini dress to the MTV Movie Awards – with Converse sneakers.

“I think it was super cool she carried herself well and had a good attitude. She and Rob Pattinson always wear my collections,” he said.

Azrouel launched his women’s wear label in 1998 and almost 10 years later a menswear collection and capsule accessories collection in 2007. The women’s wear label was launched with wide acclaim and by 2000 he began his participation with New York Fashion Week. Azrouël defined his aesthetic using high quality fabrics to drape ultra feminine, modern silhouettes.

By August 2000, Azrouël opened his full service atelier and showroom in New York’s Garment District, which continues to produce 60 percent of the collection to date. The great success of these early collections allowed Azrouël to open his flagship boutique in NYC February 2003. The Yigal Azrouël Boutique, along with the award-winning website, has been singled out for its unique and innovative design, both collaborations with Dror Benshetrit.

In July 2004, Yigal Azrouël was inducted into the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America for his unique vision and has been an active member ever since. This vision has evolved throughout the years, but Azrouël is still known best as a self-taught, expert draper.

“Draping is how I work – it’s my real and true inspiration. When I draw I don’t always know how the fabric is going to react and then when I put it on the mannequin, often I see something I didn’t expect. It’s like creating a sculpture, when you are chipping away and seeing something new and unexpected,” Azrouël said.

The fall 2007 season brought the Yigal Azrouël Collection to a new level with the debut of the first full Menswear Collection and capsule Accessories Collection. The men’s collection was nominated by GQ for the 2008 Best New Designer in America Award. Along with this nomination Azrouël opened a second boutique in the Hamptons and was chosen as the featured designer for Mercedes Benz Presents at New York Fashion Week Fall Winter 2009.

The decision to design for men came naturally to Azrouel and he said the process was very personal, like creating his own closet every season. Comparing the two lines, Azrouel takes more risk when designing for women.

“I am more creative for the woman. I use layers, color and texture, but for men it ‘s my personal style which is relaxed and laid back,” he said.

Next, Azrouel plans to grow his brand and expand it into a lifestyle. “I want to do more accessories like handbags, scarves and shoes, and I have already collaborated on some home furniture. I am very excited for the future,” he said.

The designer will return to Miami next month for Art Basel and is in talks to do an installation with Dror Benshetrit. Not a stranger to collaboration, Azrouël has worked with various artists and painters on different projects in New York City.

The Yigal Azrouel 2010 spring collection will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour in February.