Yigal Azrouël

The Israeli designer's knack for relaxed refinement is no longer a girls-only affair. By Meredith Fisher
yigalazrouel_port234For the past ten years, designer Yigal Azrouël has been recognized not only for his dashing good looks, but for his precisely cut womenswear—a line that magically makes the wearer feel both modern and sexy. Starting this season, however, the Isreali-born Azrouël is applying the same eye for detail and polish to a men's collection. His fall '07 line debuted with a complete wardrobe that spans everything from easy cashmere knits to "urban" trousers (just skinny enough, thank you). And, his recent co-ed vintage Americana-inspired spring/summer '08 show once again proved that this designer knows not only what a woman wants, but her boyfriend, too.
How did you get into designing?
I have always been interested in fashion, both personally and as an observer. I used to deconstruct vintage and create new pieces that my friends would buy. They would come back asking what's next, and with such a demand, I knew I could make it into something greater.
Why did you decide to start designing menswear?
I am really attracted to femininity, and at first I felt women's design was a more creative outlet. But I've always designed men's clothing for myself. I was waiting for the right time to bring it to the forefront and make it a part of the brand—timing is crucial. Now, I feel strongly about both lines. The men's collection has the same energy as women's—they really go hand in hand. On the recent spring/summer runway, men's shirts and cardigans were worn by some of the female models. I sometimes use the same fabrics for both because that connection is important.
Yigal Azrouël fall/winter 2007
Who is the Yigal man?
He is concerned with being comfortable while still looking refined and unique. He is fashionable but his personal style is subtle and nuanced. He understands quality and is definitely more of a downtown guy.
What was the inspiration for spring/summer '08?
It came from the saturated beach culture of 1970s America. I love looking through photography books from that period. The color is so rich, but it's also calming. The denim is a little more relaxed, some of the cuts are twisted. Also, the leather jacket makes every look a bit cooler. I recently designed a Yigal Azrouël for K-Swiss sneaker collection that really represents the refined sports image that's important to my menswear aesthetic.
What is the common theme in all your clothing?
Simplicity—I like something that comes together easily and looks effortless and wearable, yet has interesting detail and an element of surprise. My collections usually feel a bit raw and undone, but also chic.
Any favorite pieces?
For fall, it's the knits. Nothing feels better in fall than a heavy cashmere Henley layered over a soft cotton jersey shirt. For spring, it's so difficult to pick just one but the charcoal cotton-linen suit is incredible.
Yigal Azrouël spring/summer 2008
Can you tell us what's next?
Ultimately, I want Yigal Azrouël to be a lifestyle brand. We have just started to make it more diverse with men's and more accessories. The new bags for both men and women look spectacular.
For more information, go to www.yigal-azrouel.com.
The Israeli designer's knack for relaxed refinement is no longer a girls-only affair.

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