Designer Azeeza Desai is the woman behind Atelier AZZA, which produces amazingly intricate garments with loads of fabulous embellishment entirely by hand. I caught up with her a couple of weeks ago for a little street style action and Q&A
Not only is Azeeza a gifted designer, she also happens to be a complete knock out. I love the fit of this bright orange smock dress
GORGEOUS detail. Every single one of these little doo dads was applied by hand. The thought of which makes me very sleepy
Where are you from originally?
A complete city girl - born and raised in Chicago - the historic neighborhood of Old Irving Park to be exact! A few homes just a few doors down from me were actually a part of the Underground Railroad movement.
What brought you to Chicago? Do you see yourself staying here long term?
My dad migrated from India in the early 60’s to attend UIC for a Masters in Chemistry so that established the “home base.” In terms of staying long term, my husband and I asked ourselves your same question last August before we purchased real estate in the West Loop. We pondered over furthering our careers in NYC or even internationally but in the end, we decided that Chicago is everything to us. We love this city – it has a certain peaceful yet invigorating balance.
In regards to AZZA, initially I had a vision to lead my efforts in NYC but I’ve steered from that to really evolve and strengthen my infant brand in Chicago. I want to support and contribute to the burgeoning legitimate fashion movement happening here. I had a conversation on this topic in a meeting with George Kotsiopoulos of E! Fashion Police and he said it simply: “It’s cool you are from Chicago and doing this here.”
Who do you design for?
I design to create art in the form of timeless, statement garments that tell a dimensional story of fabrics, embroideries and embellishment. I aim to make those that are AZZA clad to feel confident, stand out and unique.
What is your biggest inspiration (artist, designer, musician, etc)?
Inspiration to me comes from all sorts of levels – mainly in my day to day – varying from furniture to international street style. I would attribute my biggest influence in my designs to be my Indian heritage – the opulent embellishments, vibrant colors, the silks, the prints, the batik and more - all have played a role in defining my aesthetic. Colorblock and print-on-print is not a trend to me as Indian fashion has been doing it for centuries, combining fuchsia, cobalt blue, lime green and orange on bold layered prints.
Do you have a style icon? If not what is your favorite era for style?
My moods range too much to hone in one style or person but I do think that the 60’s were really a defining era for fashion. From the boho chic hippies to the Jackie O glamour, the spectrum of style and cuts were timeless, something that I always strive for in my designs.
Salty or sweet?
Spicy, I’m Indian!
Wondering wear to buy this awesome stuff? You can contact her through her website about a bespoke custom order. (FANCY.)
PS I took pictures of Azeeza in about 10,000 outfits, so prepare to see this little lady on the blog ALOT over the next couple of months.
Gentlemen, did you catch Adam Davidson's New York Times Magazine column last week? It's a must read about the surprisingly tough business of making ultra-high-end men's suits. Not into high-priced... Read More