INTERVIEW | The Balancing Act at Azzaro

Backstage and there was a lot of shimmer and shine and little shimmying dresses; plunge fronts, short skirts, and thigh-skimming boots; shades of navy, claret, and emerald green. A heavy beat beyond the curtain and it was the debut collection from Maxime Simoens for the house of Azzaro, the latest heritage brand to get an injection of fresh spirit from the French designer who formerly held positions at Leonard and, way back when, when he started his own label, had backing from LVMH. The new kid on the block then, he's now taken on the heritage of Loris Azzaro, a brand which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Azzaro Couture - Photo by Gio Staino for NOWFASHION

"Yes [it was daunting], but I wanted to do something sexy: I wanted to respect the DNA of the brand, which is about being sexy and glamorous but never tacky," said an excited Simoens post show. A darkened and mirrored catwalk behind him, there was no doubt sultry was the vibe. And it was perhaps not a surprise to hear that Kate Moss was inspirationally involved in some way – she could easily be clocked in any of these looks which spoke of party-time, all night long, sassy with it.

"I wanted to take this and explore it, mix it with my DNA which tends to be more about architecture and structure," he explained. Indeed, cast your mind back to his own eponymous debut show, and shirting and skater skirting featured prominently as ensemble looks.

Azzaro Couture - Photo by Gio Staino for NOWFASHION

Here it was all about the little dress. It was tasselled and it was sexy and it was very very little. Sparkle at its edges was a reference to jewellery, an idea that the dresses themselves embodied – one certainly wouldn't need to add any accessories to these for they did all the talking. In fact, try and get a word in edgeways.

But for those who don't like to show off as much, Simoens had an answer: puffa jackets. "It's a way of interpreting the tradition of couture, which can normally be very institutional," he explained of their volume-solving problem. "People of my age, well, look at what you're wearing: it's easy. So I wanted to create something to give a sense of their style."

Azzaro Couture - Photo by Gio Staino for NOWFASHION

And where in ready-to-wear we've been seeing puffas of the most bulbous proportions, these were more restrained and did, in fact, work incredibly well over the tiny dresses with which one would need to wear for certain on a chilly night.

But of his new role, Simoens seemed happy and at ease. "I try to bring new blood; it's about getting the balance," he said of where Loris Azzaro begins and Maxime Simoens ends.