December 4, 2010
Antonio Azzuolo makes old-fashioned menswear with a twist. And a bit of humor too. I tracked the designer down to talk about his collections, clients, and history.
Tell me about your last collection.
The basic idea behind a.a. is building a man's wardrobe with a focus on essential, key items that I feel are crucial to it. This season being spring/summer, we placed an emphasis on casual-chic outerwear -- lightweight parka, popover, and varsity jackets -- and how these more casual items coexist with our signature tailored blazers and more tailored clothing from previous seasons.
With every season, we add a product category or elaborate on one and put that work in context during our presentation, by exploring archetypes of men, always in the context of "second degree" -- therefore never one-dimensional or literal in reference or interpretation. This season I came from a context of optimism, enthusiasm, impulse designing, with a definite reference to children's-book characters and more specifically The Adventures of Tintin.
You use pops of intense color in your collections. Do you think men wear enough color?
It would be nice to see men wear more color.
When did you strike out on your own?
Two thousand eight, after having worked for Ralph Lauren.
What's been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is definitely a financial one, since this collection is currently auto-financed. We are definitely looking at financial investment to partner with and grow the business. I could have chosen a different business model and begun with one or two key products to commercialize, which is something I am looking at today, to complement the complete line.
I guess my enthusiasm to create a whole look and point of view was too strong to keep dormant. This brand-building approach will definitely help in building the business.
You've worked at some major brands. What did you learn during your years working under other designers?
Consistency, continuity, and integrity of the brand. Exceptional craftsmanship and fit.
Who wears your clothing?
The customer is 25 to 45, professional in an art or art-related field, very stylish, but not trend-oriented. He is looking to dress up and express his individuality through dress. He is a socially conscious and responsible individual concerned about all aspects of his life, the way he dresses and the story behind the clothing, the individuals around him, his community, and the world. And his actions are in alignment with these concerns.
I was reading an interesting article on Generation Y, about their mind-set and influence on the marketplace today and in the coming years. These are the individuals who are attracted to and wearing my clothing. This type of old-school-revisited aesthetics that do not dictate a fashion but promote a spirit of personal style and nongeneric mode of dressing appeals to this generation.
In summary, a socially conscious Generation Y looking for a stylish, elegant, and chic way of being. Inside and out.
The five must-haves in every man's closet are?
A great blazer, single- or double-breasted, perfectly tailored and with metal vintage buttons.
A trench coat or tailored coat, just at the knee.
A baby-alpaca, merino-wool, or cashmere cardigan, fine or bulky or both.
Tailored skinny denim trousers, the new five-pocket denim.
A nicely tailored oxford shirt. This season, a club collar (round) with tab.
A great bag and shoes. Goes without saying.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, a sort of pyramid structure: from concrete to more abstract, from literal and nonliteral. The craft inspires me.
What are you being for Halloween?
I haven't decided yet.