Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.
Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas,
the way we live, what is happening.
Azula grew up in Mason, Michigan, and began designing her own clothes and accessories with her mother and grandmother. Several years after a broad exposure to couture, bohemian street fashion and art galleries as a student in Vienna and Paris, Azula worked in the late 90's as a stylist for several photographers in Chicago, and began her formal design career at a fine arts gallery in Chicago during graduate school at DePaul University. Surrounded by beautiful art from all over the world, she began to design pieces of wearable art from a wall and several large cases of exotic beads and other materials at her disposal, sometimes working with such exotic and interesting mediums as wild boar hair, silver, and bone. From unique and unusual elements, came the creation of custom one-of-kind pieces, working closely with each client and their own personal style. Her favorite “classic” fashion inspiration came from the height of imaginative elegance of the 1920's and the 1930's and the art and designs of Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Erte, Lalique, and many others.
Azula by Design began in 2011, on Vashon Island, Washington, with clients ranging from Seattle, to Paris, to New York and beyond. Her art has appeared in many national juried art shows across the country, the Bellevue Arts Museum Store, in Bellevue, Washington, and in couture fashion shows in Seattle, Washington. She uses up-cycled and reclaimed fabrics, found objects, as major components of her designs.
Her education at DePaul University in Chicago in the early 2000's launched her into a deep study of the effects of global economic "development" on local cultures and societies around the globe, and how these effects more often than not have lead to many of our current social and environmental dilemmas. The sweatshops and inhumane conditions of the maquiladoras in Mexico, and all they entailed, were her first exposure to the fashion industry's hidden externalized costs. The scope of the cost of the global econcomic development was staggering, as was, and is, the loss of culture, and Indigenous artistry. The story behind a finished piece of whatever we choose to put on our body is just as important as the object itself- it connects us to the person who's hands have touched the fabric, to their lives, their hopes, and their dreams.
The tragic events at the garmet factories in Bangladesh in recent years were a wake-up call for many, but much more needs to be done to prevent it from ever happening again. For many years a passionate proponent of fair-trade, reduce, re-use and re-cycle and up-cycle, Azula supports the many wonderful emerging energies that seek to create beauty out of the possibilities which tell a different story for humanity. This includes the growing number of local designers world-wide who are creating clothing, accessories, fashion, with a keen awareness of origins of materials, who are conscious about the story they are creating with their art and craft. Her recent collaboration with North West Couture, and with other Northwest designers, photographers, and lovers of fashion and beauty, and art, have inspired her to continue to facilitate more dialogue around conscious "commodity" as it relates to all aspects of our lives.
Azula gives credit and thanks her Mother, Pauline Marie, and Grandmothers Dorothea and Barbara, for their ability to create beauty and elegance wherever they went. Aunt Dorene provided a constant supply of Vogue Magazines to pour over from an early age, and lovely sketches to embellish. She also credits her Great Aunt Mary Phillips, who often came to visit for tea in her perfectly coiffed redheaded beehive, finest bright red skirt and pink top with matching pink and red patent leather handbag, lots of sparkly jewellry, with a hearty laugh of fairy bells and babbling brooks. Aunt Mary was Advanced Style before Advanced Style: spirit as expressed through beauty, art, and individuality.