Yigal Azrouel. I am a huge fan of his, owning several pieces that I've collected over the years (his twice-yearly sample sales unearth some great finds), and whenever I get an invite to one of his shows, my heart skips a little. Typically known for his sexy draped dresses and snug leather jackets, last season Azrouel made an about-face in favor of a more sophisticated tailored look that I loved just as well. For spring, he picked up where he left off, with a very clean, minimal yet impactful collection that married streamlined shapes with super-saturated colors. He played with more volume this season, with fall's skinny colored pants giving way to wide-legged cuts in leather and double-faced cotton. And speaking of leather, there was a gorgeous buttery trench coat that I could live in (and anticipating its price tag, I'd likely have to). But lest you think Azrouel has gone too polished and uptown, he reminded you of his downtown roots (his store is on 14th Street in the Meatpacking District, after all) with super-sexy, up-to-there thigh slits. Azrouel's client might have grown up, but she still knows how to have a good time.
For Azrouel fans who aren't quite ready to give up the sexy jersey and leather, there's Cut25, which is his fairly new secondary line. The past few seasons, Cut25 has been a more distilled version of Azrouel's signature line, but for spring, he took an entirely different direction—it was all about color, like the main line, but with a sporty surfer influence and a more casual vibe. The silhouette was still pure, with clean, simple shapes, but it felt much younger, with techno fabrics, sheer layers, and cutouts. It was one of the happiest collections I'd seen thus far (and even in a pretty colorful, optimistic season)—on a surface level, and because it shows while Azrouel's signature line has grown up, he still remains young at heart.