Azzaro Spring 2022 Couture Collection

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Olivier Theyskens has built an enviable reputation on romance. Edwardian-inflected hook-and-eye closures, frissons of lace, graceful gowns, and the perfect line have been leitmotifs of his work since the late ’90s, when he started his eponymous label in Paris. What have perhaps not been so closely associated with his sophisticated vision of femininity are sequins. But that’s changed since he took the top creative job at Azzaro two years ago, where he has been making couture—and embracing all things shiny.

“I love the possibility to play with things I was more shy with in the past: paillettes, crystals, sequins,” he said, in a preview at the house’s head office in the eighth arrondissement. “That’s a typical Azzaro thing, and I am discovering how beautiful it can be.” Part of that is down to having established a good working relationship with the atelier team. “When you understand the culture, what [the atelier] knows how to do, you can be confident when you do a design, it will be done properly.” And, having carefully absorbed the meticulously preserved archive of press cuttings depicting an impressive roster of ’70s It-girl fans (Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, Romy Schneider, Dalida), Theyskens has mastered making ornamentation feel easy. “It’s imprinted in me, this notion: It’s a couture house, but it’s not an haute couture house,” he explained. “It doesn’t have the rules from haute couture. Most of the dresses are very simple, it’s just about the body shape.”

Fluidity was the watchword for the season, and it permeated the metallic-flecked knitted tunic-and-trouser combinations and louche, sheeny suits in moody shades of gray, caramel, and Russian blue. Most memorable were the floor-length evening dresses, cut to expose the back, their skirts left long and dramatic, some with deep Vs at the neck and barely-there straps trimmed with crystals. They were reminiscent of the kinds of gowns Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, and Halle Berry wore on the red carpet in the early 2000s, and fit with the current thirst for Y2K without compromising on refinement. “It has a glamour, an ease, but there is not a lot of construction,” Theyskens said.

Despite these COVID-stricken months of scaled back red-carpet events, he’s found particular success with menswear, which is appealing to an increasingly flamboyant client. Highlights included a spangled take on a pinstriped suit, the stripes picked out in silver sequins; and a black paillette-strewn two-piece suit paired with a liquid vinyl roll-neck. Some of the most spectacular pieces in the showroom, though, won’t make the edit for the film which served to showcase the spring 2022 collection in lieu of a show. “People are looking for the new language. But I want to keep working also on the retro-vintage, which I love,” Theyskens said. Clients are starting to seek out made-to-measure services in one-to-one appointments, and requesting remakes of pieces from the archive. He is considering remaking the famous chainmail and crochet blouses from the 1970s. But all in good time. “At the moment,” he said. “I put my choice on things that feel a little more timeless.”



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