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Azzaro Releases Castello Branco

By Godfrey Deeny

Fashion Wire Daily - Paris - Azzaro has laid off its creative director, Mathilde Castello Branco, barely one year after hiring the Brazilian-born designer.

"The House of Azzaro and Mathilde Castello Branco are moving forward in different directions. Azzaro will shortly be announcing her successor," the house said in a notably terse press release issued Wednesday, Oct. 24.

By any standards, it was a very abrupt departure.

Castello Branco joined Azzaro from Lanvin, where she had worked alongside that house's famed designer Alber Elbaz for the previous decade. Castello Branco succeeded Vanessa Seward, who was fired in March 2011, despite earnings kudos from fashion critics and winning a loyal red carpet following for Azzaro. Seward managed to last nine years at Azzaro, while Castello Branco managed just 13 months.

Her departure will raise questions about the future direction of the house, whose founder, Loris Azzaro, died in 2003. Especially so, given the abrupt shift in aesthetics from Seward to Castello Branco. Where the former focused on Azzaro's glossy sensuality, the latter was more noted for her feminine poise and far darker silhouette.

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. By contrast, Castello Branco's first designs for Azzaro, pre-fall 2012, garnered laudatory though not terribly enthusiastic reviews.

Azzaro, which was founded by in Paris in 1967, built a worldwide reputation for racy femininity and French savoir-faire.

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