Fashion

Yigal Azrouël shows how opposites attract at New York Fashion Week

A look at the esteemed designer and surfer, and his decadent Fall 2016 collection.

Israeli-American fashion design Yigal Azrouel showed his fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week.Israeli-American fashion design Yigal Azrouel showed his fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week.Israeli-American fashion designer Yigal Azrouel showed his fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week. (Photo: Neilson Barnard)

International fashion designer Yigal Azrouël, who's dressed everyone from Rihanna and Gwyneth Paltrow to Olivia Wilde and Jessica Alba, showed off a Fall 2016 collection where contrasts abound. He seemed to have fun toying with dualities: light and darkness, innocence and impurity. A rich, moody color palette of navy, red, plum and black played with exuberant embroidered jumpsuits, floral prints and shimmering brocade. Heavy cable knits, ideal for autumn, were starkly juxtaposed with romantic lace and silk.

"This was a clean-slate idea for me,” the Israeli-born Azrouël told Vogue. “A girl who has innocence, but also a real darkness.”

Launched in 1998, Yigal Azrouël’s namesake label is perhaps best known for its fluid, feminine draping. He designs clothing for real women. "My vision is not about fantasy; it’s about reality," the designer told W Magazine. "I design for women, and I have my eyes on what I want you to look like.”

Azrouël was born and raised in a port town near Tel Aviv, Israel where he learned how to accommodate women's needs early on: he has five sisters, twin brothers and happens to be the youngest of the eight. "I would always go shopping with my sisters, get taken to give my opinion on what they were wearing," says the designer. When he wasn't shopping, he spent his time in the water surfing, which has remained a passion and source of inspiration.

Cate Blanchett stuns in a Yigal Azrouël Holiday Resort 2016 Fringe Cut-out Shoulder Dress for a GQ editorial. Cate Blanchett stuns in a Yigal Azrouël Holiday Resort 2016 fringe cut-out shoulder dress for a GQ editorial. (Photo: Mark Abrahams/GQ)

At the age of 21, he booked a flight from Israel to Washington, D.C. where one of his sisters and her family lived. He wanted to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Azrouël was drawn to the mother-in-law's sewing machine in the home, and she began teaching Azrouël how to make garments. The young designer was hooked, and off he went to New York City. The rest, as they say, is history.

Without any formal fashion design training – he couldn't afford design school – Azrouël built his eponymous fashion house from a tiny 300-square-foot studio he rented in New York's Garment District. "Not having training made me stronger,” he told W Magazine. “I think you really have to do something with your life. I just really believe in myself.”

Yigal Azrouel has dressed celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Eva Longoria. Yigal Azrouel has dressed celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Eva Longoria. (Photo: Chelsea Lauren)

In 2000, Azrouël opened his atelier and showroom in the Garment District, where approximately 80 percent of his collections are manufactured. He was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2004. Yigal Azrouël pieces are now sold internationally at luxury retailers, online at Yigal-Azrouel.com and at his Madison Avenue flagship boutique in New York City.

Who needs formal training? When you have talent, vision and ambition like Azrouël, the sky is the limit.

A model walks the runway wearing Yigal Azrouel fall 2016 at the Shows at The Gallery, Skylight at Clarkson Sq during New York Fashion Week. A model walks the runway wearing Yigal Azrouel's fall 2016 line during New York Fashion Week. (Photo: Neilson Barnard)

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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