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Azzaro Names Castello Branco Creative Director
September 02nd, 2011 @ 00:39 AM - Paris
The house of Azzaro has named Brazilian-born Mathilde Castello Branco, an experienced yet obscure talent, to be its new creative director, catching industry observers somewhat by surprise.
“Mathilde Castello Branco’s arrival marks a new step in the development of the house of Azzaro,” the house said in a release on Friday, Sept. 2.
The new creative director joins Azzaro from Lanvin, where she worked alongside that house’s famed designer Alber Elbaz for the past decade. Castello Branco succeeds Vanessa Seward, who was somewhat surprisingly removed in March despite earnings kudos from fashion critics and winning a loyal red carpet following for Azzaro.
Seward entered Azzaro back in 2002 when designer and founder Loris Azzaro appointed her as his first assistant. One year later, following Azzaro's death, Seward was named Creative Director of the brand, going on to win such notable clients as actresses Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Valerie Lemercier, along with socialites Eugenie Niarchos and Jemima Khan.
The new appointment promises to mark a significant change in the aesthetic direction of Azzaro, which was founded by in 1967 at 65 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in central Paris, still its headquarters.
Azzaro has always been known for a racy femininity and French savoir-faire; its most famous signature look remains a "three ring" dress, an instantly recognizable design that has marked many movie premieres.
Castello Branco, 39, took up her new position on Thursday, the release noted. Her first designs for Azzaro will be unveiled in January for pre-fall 2012.
She has been given a larger remit than Seward by Maria Reig, owner of the Reig Capital group, the private equity firm based in Andorra that acquired control of the Azzaro brand in 2006. Unlike Seward, Castello Branco will also be responsible for the menswear and fragrances of Azzaro, whose scents are licensed by Groupe Clarins.
The new creative director was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and first moved to Paris when she was 20 to study at both École Duperré and the Atelier Chardon Savard before taking up her first job, as a design assistant in Hermes, during the period when Martin Margiela was that brand’s women’s designer.
“I have always admired Loris Azzaro's modernity and creations, and I was impressed by Mathilde's career and personality. Since acquiring the brand in 2006, we have succeeded in ‘reviving’ it. The brand is now ready to focus on this important new step,” said Reig in the release.
Since Reig’s takeover, Azzaro has added products like leather goods and accessories to the Azzaro offer, without however noticeably enhancing the Paris label’s media presence.