A Night Amongst The Stars
Glass looks at the high-voltage eroticism of Loris Azzaro in the new tome by Assouline
Showers of sequins, exuberant feathers, embroidered transparencies stretched across a lithe frame, slashes in silk jersey so high they should have been illegal and long languid looks on some of the most sensual sirens of the day – this was Paris of the 70s. And this was the time of Loris Azzaro, the fashion designer who brought sex to couture. A charming and bewitching figure, his aim was to dress women so that men would undress them. He was satisfied with a creation, “if a woman wants to put it on and a man wants to take it off”.
This charming couturier’s life and times have been brought together to stunning effect by the publisher Assouline. The history of the brand is described by the renowned fashion historian Jéromine Savignon and he takes us through the designer’s life – from his humble upbringing in Tunis, his love of opera and his life-changing meeting with his beautiful wife, Michelle Carsy, to his triumphant reign as the couturier to the stars.
Azzaro and his wife arrived in Paris following the summer of 1962, at a time when Paris was experiencing a rebirth. They moved into a small workshop just a few steps away from one of the trendiest boutiques of the time – Dorothee. He soon started making jewelled accessories to great success.
The leap from trinkets to bejewelled gowns for the stars was quick and effortless. No years of struggling for Azzaro. In 1966, his charm and determination brought him, his wife and Reinhard Luthier (his partner in design who had come from Dior) to a new studio where he started to create the metallic gold, sheer and fluid creations fit for modern, sensual, nocturnal nymphs.
This was his dream – to envisage, to create the boldness of the night. The dusky glamour that bewitches and enthrals everyone and captivates the ones lucky enough to be able to buy into the fantasy.
Azzaro’s dresses were indeed fantasy, wildly distinctive and engaging, one could imagine “in them something might happen” according to International Herald Tribune fashion columnist Hebe Dorsey. In one of his dresses one defintively hoped something would.
His fans were notable and the list long – Elizabeth Taylor, Claudia Cardinale, Maria Callas, Princess Paola of Belgium. His clothes dripped sensuality, but they also dripped innovation and this is what kept his admirers continuously succumbing to his charms. Gold fibres were threaded, beads and drops fashioned out of liquid polyester, he brought couture and chemistry together to dazzling effect.
These incredible pieces were photographed by the great and good of the time and the book seduces the reader with such wonderful images by Guy Bourdin, Tony Kent and Helmut Newton.
Amazonian beauties in hyper-sophisticated night-time glamour – an ideal much lauded in 70s Paris. However beyond the hype of the time, Azzaro has a place in design history, for he understood the essential ingredient of dress; passion and the desire to seduce. it’s what every woman wants in her wardrobe.
As Loris Azzaro simply states, “I have always sold eroticism in my dresses and I think, if a woman is beautiful, good for her, but if we can make her provocative, good for me.”
-This post originally appeared on glassmagazine