the shOws: Get To Know Antonio Azzuolo

a.a. fw14 tryptic menJust like editors and buyers like to attend the shOws, designers like to attend them. Jeremy Laing is a local fixture (madly loved by all), and Tanya Taylor, Calla Haynes, Steven Tai (brilliant), Bellavance, Jean-Pierre Braganza, Antonio Azzuolo have all presented collections at the shOws. What’s coolest is how these designers do our country proud by being international ambassadors of Canadian fashion.

For example, Antonio Azzuolo is a Montreal-born designer with a Torontonian education and plenty of time spent in Paris and Milan. Mr. Azzuolo now resides in New York and has a book of tear sheets as thick as a dictionary (NYLON Guys, Paper, Details, Vogue Japan…) and a resume that includes Design Director for Ralph Lauren (Purple and Black), finalist for the CFDA’s Vogue Fashion Fund, collaborations with Warby Parker and Giuliano Fujiwara and, of course, his namesake collections.

Here, we speak with Antonio about coming home to the shOws and where he goes to eat good Italian in New York, Toronto, Montreal and Milan:

Flare: What is it about the shOws you value?

AA: Toronto and Canada and the Hudson’s Bay company are important players in the industry. Hudson’s Bay just acquired Saks Fifth Avenue, but Canada has always been an important fashion capital. The shOws is a small venue with specific designers – that type of support is important. It creates a special platform for designers to access editors and buyers, and vice versa.

Flare: What’s the reward of showing back home in Canada? 

AA: The primary benefit is the opportunity to build brand awareness. Canada has The Bay, Holt Renfrew, The Room, SSENSE – just to name a few – they’re big! The shOws creates a buzz for buyers.

Flare: You were born in Montreal and educated in Toronto, but you have a Milanese accent from time spent there, and live in New York now. Does being Canadian by birth have any leverage at all? 

AA: The French love Canada, by the way. This country produces lots of interesting talent. Expatriates are still Canadians working abroad, and that’s a nice community to be part of. We have a reputation for being good, honest and friendly.

Flare: Let’s get less serious for a bit. What music are you listening to right now?

AA: I listen to two radio stations: WQXR and NPR. I like classical music and I like to keep up with what’s important in the world!

Flare: Could you name a favourite movie?

AA: My all-time favourite film is Babette’s Beast, an older Danish film. I haven’t been to the theatre in a while. I did really like Blue Jasmine.

Flare: OK, now let’s get really serious. Which restaurants have your favourite Italian food? 

AA: Top of the list is Chez Filomena – my mom’s home cooking and from scratch! Also, Ristorante da Vinci (1180 Bishop Street) because they’re classic Italian and prepare some of the best pasta dishes in the city, and Graziella (116 McGill Street) for their high quality, home-style cooking.

In Toronto, I visit Grano, Pizzeria Libretto and Scaramouche if I want to get a little fancy.

In Milan, Bice, it’s classic and my all-time favourite Italian restaurant, and I also love Sabbia D’Oro on Corso Colombo for fish and its close proximity to the Giuliano Fujiwara office.

Flare: Last question! What do you order for dinner?

AA: It’s four courses: Foccacia, then Spagetti alle Vongole followed by Fritto misto di pesche and, finally, espresso and profiterole. For drinks, prosecco.

Flare was there for Antonio Azzuolo’s Fall 2014 collection at theshOws this month. See the runway looks below!