Shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, the song “Out of Time” by the Rolling Stones came on in a West Village studio a few blocks from the Hudson River, and 15 boyish models wearing Antonio Azzuolo’s Fall 2009 collection lined up in front of a foot-high stage. It was the beginning of Mr. Azzuolo’s third New York Fashion Week presentation for his budding men’s wear line, a.a., which blends slim, meticulous tailoring with luxury trappings like recycled mink fur, and a dash of ’60s mod sensibility.
Mr. Azzuolo, a Montreal native who now lives on the Lower East Side, did stints at Ralph Lauren and Hermes before “arriving” last February, when Jonathan S. Paul of T: The New York Times Style Magazine covered his debut Fashion Week presentation, blogging that it was “all about: Chuck Bass.”
Twelve months and one recession later, as money-panicked New Yorkers continue to scale back their extravagances, it seems fitting that Mr. Azzuolo has toned down the Upper-East-Side-iness of his new collection, if only just a smidge.
“Last season it was a little more private school,” Mr. Azzuolo told the Daily Transom after the show. He was wearing one of his own navy blue double-breasted wool suits and vintage Christian Dior glasses. “I wanted [the new collection] to be a little more rugged and masculine and to add a downtown aspect to it.” (So if you see Ed Westwick donning combat boots and fingerless gloves anytime soon, you’ll know where he got the idea!)
T editor in chief Stefano Tonchi, Details fashion director Michael Macko and a few GQ editors were all in attendance. But by far the most notable guest of the evening was Zelda Kaplan, the 92-year-old New York nightlife fixture and eternal It girl who apparently can party harder than the Daily Transom and all of his late-20-something friends, and who charmed this reporter off the bat by complimenting the “very nice colors” of his checkered shirt. She was dressed in all black, including one of her signature African-style hats, to draw attention, she said, to her “very unique necklace”—an eccentric souvenir from her visit several years ago to the Konyak Tribe of northeast India.
The Daily Transom wondered what events she would she be attending over the next week.
“Oh, don’t even ask me! I’ve already gone to some and I don’t even remember the names,” she said, laughing. “I just enjoy the look. Even at the shows I don’t like, there’s always something I love. We have so many talented designers, so it makes me happy for them, and it makes me happy for the population of the world. Everyone has the opportunity to look chic.”
Mr. Azzuolo, who is in his mid-30s, got her blessing as well.
“I think he’s a very talented young man!” she said.