It’s late Thursday morning on the coldest day of the year so far, and designer Yigal Azrouel, 40, blows into Hirshleifers, the uber-luxe temple of fashion at the Americana shopping center in Manhasset.
He’s not there to shop, although, he says, “They have a lot of good stuff here; maybe I will take care of some shopping later.” It’s a trunk show that has the handsome, Israeli-born designer, scarf artfully wrapped around his neck (he’s one of those guys who have perfected the scarf wrapping), rifling through his rack of spring looks. Yes, we said spring -- there for customers to pre-order -- and very tempting on this frosty day.
“My inspiration comes from architecture. It’s super-sculptural and modern,” he says, holding a precisely tailored frock of jacquard patchwork. “I used a lot of black and white, with shadow graphics and digital prints,” says Azrouel, who launched his namesake collection in 1998. There are also watery blues and a shock of citrus green to amp up the neutrals. Who’s his customer? “Anybody who appreciates good design and does not necessarily shop one brand. They think outside the box.”
The designer is boyishly gleeful when he shows off one “convertible” look worn by a model -- a mesh top zips off a flared leather skirt. “You can wear the skirt alone,” he says. It is a sexy piece, but his definition of sexy is not about the clothes. “It’s not about being naked. It’s about your attitude.” His muse? “Francoise Hardy, she has always been my muse," he says of the French singer and actress who is an iconic figure in the world of style and music.”
His enthusiasm becomes unbridled when he talks about his French bulldog, Jagger. “Oh I love him,” he says whisking through dog photos on his iPhone like a proud parent. He shows a hoodie that he designed for his pooch… with a monogram no less, and in another photo a doggie snood.
Ahhh, but then a steady stream of fans approach. His charm and attention turns to them. After this, he’s off to Costa Rica where he has a home and loves to surf. And if you’re thinking of giving him a holiday gift, well his ideal present is a vintage Rolex watch…circa 1969. “I have very expensive taste,”he says.