Jacques Azagury first appeared on the fashion radar when he created some of the most stunning dresses that Diana, Princess of Wales, ever chose to wear – helping to transform her into an international, eye-catching fashion icon. Through his pulse-raising evening wear – the red carpet choice for so many leading women – Azagury is now recognised as one of the most accomplished couturiers of our time. It’s all about precision. Fit: that ‘Azagury silhouette’… And, of course, exquisite fabrics: heavy satins, silk velvets, gossamer chiffons.
Moroccan-born Azagury got his fashion education at the London College of Fashion and St. Martin’s School of Art. Graduating in the 80s, he stormed into the heart of London’s cultural and style scene with the launch of his ‘New Romantics’ collection, which tapped so perfectly into the spirit of those exciting times. As a result, he was talent-spotted by Brown’s boutique in London – and Jacques Azagury designs could soon be found in Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York, as well as Harvey Nichols.
In 1987, Azagury opened his flagship boutique and atelier in Knightsbridge, focusing on women’s evening wear. From the day the store opened, an international clientele began beating a path – as fast as their elegant heels (or their limo driver) could carry them – to his door. His relationship with the Princess of Wales began when he was introduced to her by Vogue’s Anna Harvey, her mentor from British Vogue, who silently guided Diana’s wardrobe choices through her formative years as a royal after her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. (The whole Azagury family is seriously talented, meanwhile: his brother Joseph Azagury is known for the most elegant shoe designs, while their cousin Solange Azagury-Partridge is one of London’s most sought-after jewellery designers.)
Today, Jacques Azagury continues to dress some of the most glamorous women in the world – from BAFTA-winning actresses and burlesque dancers to rock stars and royalty: Helen Mirren, Sheridan Smith, Helen McCrory, Kelly Brook, Amanda Holden, Mylene Klass… Open any copy of Hello, any week you like, and you’ll spot a Jacques Azagury dress featured on the red carpet, somewhere…
Jacques also worked on designs – some in the ‘spirit’ of the Princess of Wales’s style – for the 2013 biopic starring Naomi Watts. He commented, to www.glamour.com, ‘We made two replicas for the movie of some of the dresses I made for the princess, with another few that were “Diana-esque” dresses -what she would have worn based on her aesthetic as I knew it… There were lots of things that made up Diana; her look wasn’t just one thing, remember, she was really a phenomenon. It was the dresses, the way she acted, the way she approached people, her approach to life: It was a hundred things that all came together to make one special person. That’s why one single person has never been able to replace her, not from royalty, not from cinema, not from fashion.’
But 2104 has been a big year for Jacques Azagury for quite another reason: the launch of a beautiful collection of signature fragrances, the realisation of a long-held dream.
According to Azagury, whether designing clothing, his Knightsbridge shop, Covent Garden apartment or a perfume bottle, he approaches each project with the same philosophy – so that each embodies his ideals of clean, pure, unfussy lines. Even before working on the scents themselves, Jacques perfected the bottle to contain them: the design had to be grand – yet have a modern feel, echoing his ideal when creating a fashion collection.
Azagury decided simply to colour-code the scents, as you can see here – unusual, for fragrances, but he believed that a name might shape and influence what we feel for a scent, before unstoppering the bottle and discovering the alchemy of notes within. So a coloured plexiglass ring is all that identifies each fragrance, on the hefty crystal bottles – the only clue to the ‘name’.
Above all, ‘each scent had to be totally new – not smelling like anything I’d smelled before,’ says Jacques Azagury. And – unlike a fashion collection – timeless, too. We recommend discovering and exploring the fragrances in more depth, below, including Green (with its notes of lime, ginger, carnation, vanilla, sandalwood and white musk), or the eternally classic Black, which is a swirl of rich notes including plum, orange, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, sandalwood, ambergris – and the animalic purr of oudh’s caress. Even more exotically, there’s Wenge, fusing tuberose, pink pepper, saffron, rose, patchouli and oudh (again), on a smouldering base of sandalwood, Javanese vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla.
You can’t, of course, see these fragrances, when they’re worn on the red carpet. But anyone who trails in the wake of a beautiful woman in a stunning dress, smelling of something gorgeous, may well now find himself (or herself) enjoying a breath of Azagury – in perfume form…
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