Maxime Simoens

PARIS — Loris Azzaro has appointed Maxime Simoëns artistic director, with immediate effect. Simoëns succeeds Arnaud Maillard and Alvaro Castejón, who parted ways with the house in July 2016 after three years.

The French designer will oversee the house’s couture collections, ready-to-wear lines and men’s and women’s accessories, with his first collection to be presented during couture week in July.

The heritage Parisian label, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, in January presented an interim capsule collection designed by socialites Bianca Brandolini and Eugenie Niarchos.

Simoëns said his vision for the brand was a mix of vintage and modern.

Loris Azzaro’s vision, with his work on necklines, the way he mixed jewels and dresses, the drapes, and his way of exalting beauty with this sense of Hollywood chic, is really something I identify with,” the designer told WWD.

“The idea is to reinterpret this in a fresh way that will also mark a departure from what I did for my own label. There will still be the sophisticated evening gowns, but also a stronger focus on pieces for the day, and a more contemporary attitude,” he added.

Two couture collections will be presented each year, but another priority, said Simoëns, is to relaunch the house’s women’s ready-to-wear line, which has been put on standby.

A small collection of women’s and men’s silhouettes will be presented in October, he said, with the format for presenting men’s and women’s going forward still being finalized. “The men’s has always been quite classic, it didn’t really reflect the women’s line. The aim is to bring the two universes together so that they’re a real couple,” he said.

Gabriel de Linage, the house’s chief executive officer, said the work of Simoëns, who is known for his architectural, graphic silhouettes mixing cut-outs, embroidery and prints, “is in subtle resonance with Loris Azzaro’s emblematic silhouettes.”

Celebrity fans of Simoëns’ sexy and graphic dresses include Mélanie Laurent, Rachel McAdams, Beyoncé, Léa Seydoux and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

A graduate of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Simoëns in the early stages of his career was hailed as a wunderkind after making the shortlist for the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography in 2008, at age 25, with Bernard Arnault making an investment in the fledgling business of the young designer in 2012. He did a one-season stint as creative director at Leonard in the same year.

Since joining the official calendar in 2011, his presence has been patchy, however. Having experimented with showing in both the couture and ready-to-wear schedules, Simoëns in January 2015 announced he was taking a pause with his signature collection, and parted ways with his high-profile backer.

The designer reemerged last June for the launch of his urban men’s sportswear label, dubbed M.X. Maxime Simoëns, but has since switched to a see-now-buy-now format.

The plan, he said, is to present his second collection to buyers in private presentations before sending it down the runway in June when it hits retail. The brand’s first M.X. Maxime Simoëns store is also due to open in June, on Rue Vieille du Temple in Paris’ Marais district.

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