BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN
At first glance, Yigal Azrouël does not strike you as a typical ready to wear designer. He is swarthy and handsome, unassuming but direct. As a native born Israeli he served in the nation’s army, is a devoted surfer, collaborates on art projects with the Guggenheim Museum, the New York City Ballet, shoe wizard Manolo Blahnik and other celebrated modern artists. He doesn’t have a posse.
Instead, for more than twenty years, Azrouël’s self-funded clothing line has featured designs as intensely modern as they are romantic, yet so serene in its fluid draping and ease of movement that to live in his clothes is to feel renewed, fresh and different.
With a canny eye for fabrics that stand out despite clean silhouettes, Azrouël’s dresses look sensational on special occasions, which is why they have adorned such favorite style stars as Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock, Taylor Swift and this year’s biggest new star, and fellow countryman, Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot. But what's even better is how his clothes are equally appealing when worn by women invested in their diverse, busy lives, which is why - to borrow a line from one of our knockout bridal collection - we consider Gabriel & Co. jewelry and Yigal Azrouël’s collections a “Perfect Match®.
HR: Your career is basically a passion project gone wild?
YA: I guess, yes, you could say that. I didn’t go to design school. I studied architecture and made clothes for my friends on the side. I would take denim and sewed it in ways that made it look more elegant than when it was just jeans and a jacket. I liked the fabric because it was strong and made women feel powerful. That became the key for the clothes I wanted to make for women. I wanted them to feel good about themselves.
HR: So when did you commit and say, “Ok, I’m doing this.”?
YA: Around twenty years ago, I did my first collection, all black, all made in New York, and Barneys immediately picked it up. I have to admit, I never get tired of all black because it has drama, simplicity and mystery. And it makes women feel secure.
When it comes to wearable design orany design – there is no greater achievement than effortless chic. And when you look at all of these pieces that are accessorizing my clothes, it’s obvious that Gabriel’s dramatic, eye-catching, yet wearable design is everyone is after. - Yigal Azrouël
HR: But how do you keep black, especially in urban areas, where so many women wear it, from fading into the background?
YA: Great texture is everything. Look at this collection where the black is heightened by intricate lace, or large wide comfortable pants that add volume but in a real sexy way, or, even better, this liquid velvet that feels so amazing to wear.
HR: Your clothes are understated at first glance. I think the big rush comes when women realize how good they feel when they step into them.
YA: I make clothes that people feel good to wear. The woman in my head is always strong and confident. She wakes in the morning eager to take on the day and to make sure people know she is present.
HR: It’s readily apparent from the photo shoot how accessible the clothes are, and how beautifully they work with Gabriel’s newest collections of Fine Jewelry Everyday.
YA: I love these shots! Look how feminine and sexy she is. The women she represents for me would easily wear Gabriel jewelry because like my clothes, your pieces have presence without ever upstaging or hijacking a woman’s personality.
HR: Would you call it timeless?
YA: Absolutely. Ultimately, a smart designer wants to make pieces that will last in a woman’s wardrobe. When it comes to wearable design or any design, there is no greater achievement than effortless chic. And when you look at all of these pieces that are accessorizing my clothes, it’s obvious that Gabriel’s dramatic, eye-catching, yet wearable design is exactly the kind of effortless chic everyone is after.
Once she sees it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to buy one of these pieces for my girlfriend. She’s going to love them.