You might know Antonio Azzuolo‘s name since he received a nod from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last year (his subsequent appearance on the web series about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, The Fashion Fund, is worth a watch) and is a nominee for the Swaravski award for menswear for this year’s CFDA awards–but you should really know him for his meticulously tailored and exquisitely made menswear.
I met with Azzuolo as he was preparing for the Met Gala, where he dressed Daniel Radcliffe and Prabal Gurung, to discuss how someone who focuses his business on high-end quality and luxury products can “make it” in today’s fashion world of H&M collabs and lower prices lines.
Fashionista: So how did you got started as a designer? And what inspired you to go into design as a career?
Antonion Azzuolo: I decided I would go into international relations in university and then after a year I thought, “What am I doing?” and so halfway through it I took art classes, I prepared a portfolio and I went to Toronto and I studied fashion. I’d always been in that environment–my dad was a tailor, my mom was a seamstress, but it’s not something that they encouraged. They encouraged me to be a doctor, an engineer, an accountant, a pharmacist.
When did you start your own collection?
For me, I see it as on ongoing process. I started while I was in school, a couple of retailers wanted to carry the line and I did it but I didn’t want to stay in Toronto so I shipped my last collection and I went to Milan. I stayed there a year and then I went to Paris. In Paris after having worked for Hermes and Kenzo, I started my collection again and then when I came to New York I knew that it was something that I wanted to do more seriously. The luxury market in New York is bigger now than it was before. This time there’s no way I’m stopping or taking a break.
Why did you choose to go into men’s fashion?
I think that I’m just fascinated with tailoring, and it’s true that I love tailoring for women, but I don’t know, maybe because it’s because I love to wear tailored clothing [that I went into menswear]. I’m probably a little bit more daring in menswear; I think there’s more ambition in my intent and in my vision in menswear than there is in womens. I want to push the boundaries in menswear because it’s a little stifling.
I think that some of my clients are my dream customers and I should say all of them, but some of them in particular inspire me, like Cassius [that would be Cassius Marcellus Cornelius Clay, Kanye's teen wunderkind stylist] and some of my custom clients. I would have loved to dress like Saint Laurent in a suit, too, but you know he doesn’t need my help. I think that inspires me when like someone understands my aesthetic and the process that goes into it and they want it-–they really want it.