'Diana' Designer Jacques Azagury Talks Princess Di, Kate Middleton, and Regal Elegance
Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Jacques Azagury's design.Princess Diana will forever be a style icon, and thanks to her new biopic, we get to relive some of her most memorable fashion moments. With Diana due out this Friday, I was thrilled at the opportunity to talk with Jacques Azagury about the dresses he made for the film. As a friend to the Princess, and one of her favorite designers, Azagury was asked to take a large part in creating Naomi Watts' wardrobe for the movie. We discussed the actress' transformation, Kate Middleton's style and even how to capture that regal elegance for any evening soiree.
StyleBistro: I watched the movie last night and the dresses were beautiful. How many pieces did you make for the film altogether?
Azagury: Thank you! We did eight dresses for the movie.
SB: How many were replications of dresses you made for Princess Diana?
Azagury: We chose two dresses which were replicas of the dresses I made for Diana. One is the blue dress which is on all the posters, and the other one is the long black one with the square neck and the bows. I didn't want to make every dress a replica of Diana's because I didn't want it to be too costume-y. The other six dresses were what I call Diana-esque dresses, what she would have chosen for those events or functions at the time.
SB: What was your absolute favorite dress you ever designed for Princess Diana?
Azagury: I think they're all my favorites really because each one has a different story, each one has a different moment for me. Perhaps the long black one that's in the movie because it was a birthday present I gave to her that she wore on her 36th birthday. Really, that was the most poignant of all the dresses I made for her because it was the last time she appeared at a public function before she went to Paris.
SB: How would you describe Princess Diana's aesthetic?
Azagury: The years about her in the movie, she was working out a lot, she was very body conscious. Her arms looked great, her legs were phenomenal, she had a really great look about her. I think she understood the very famous saying that "less is more." On my behalf, I concentrated on taking her away from the frilly things she used to wear at the beginning and streamlining her right down to the bare essentials: a great cut, a great fabric, and some great construction. They were very simple dresses but they had a lot of power.
SB: What was it like to see Naomi Watts in the pieces you designed for Diana?
Azagury: When she came to see me in the shop here for the first fitting, she was already in the zone, she had been rehearsing, she had been learning how to stand. I didn't know how I was going to feel putting one of Diana's dresses on Naomi, but it was actually quite joyful because it brought the moment back again for me. I could see her transforming in front of me, in front of the mirror, even though she didn't have the makeup on yet.
SB: Do you see any similarities between Princess Diana and Kate Middleton's styles?
Azagury: Not really. Kate is a very beautiful girl, she dresses really well, but they're two completely different creatures. Also, I think they're trying not to put too much emphases on Kate's fashion, not to go through another Diana. She always looks great, she shops on the high streets as everybody knows, so I think they're trying to do more of a girl next door with Kate.
SB: Our readers are big red carpet followers and I know you have a large celebrity clientele! How do you approach designing a piece for Helen Mirren versus Kelly Rowland or Kelly Osbourne?
Azagury: Normally those dresses will be from the current collection or the fashion forward collection. Again, it's all about where it's going to appear, what that person is going to do—is she going to present, is she going to be walking? There's lots of different things to think about as to which dress to put on that person. Of course, in the end, they have to look spectacular and glamorous, but there are various ways of doing that.
Azagury: Yes, last week we had Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud wearing a long rose gold sequined dress at an event with a cutout back that looked spectacular (left). My favorite one is always the latest one! Can't live too much in the past.
SB: What direction do you see evening dresses going this year? Any particular trends or silhouettes you think we'll be seeing a lot of?
Azagury: We're still seeing a lot of the '50s influence on the short to mid-calf dresses which are very glamorous depending on the fabric. But I think for evening women really want to enhance their figures and I don't think that will ever change. I think it's got to be a body-conscious dress that's going to make the best of the body.
SB: Your designs have a beautiful timeless quality. When it comes to eveningwear, what would be your advice to women trying to achieve that classic regal elegance?
Azagury: I think you really should look at yourself and choose something that will suit you out of all the current trends that are around, rather than be completely on-trend and make yourself look like a fool. You've got to know what suits you and what's going to be the best dress for your body for the function you're attending.
Naomi Watts as Diana in Jacques Azagury's Diana-esque design.