We recently were able to catch up with creator Adrian Azodi about the brand Monsieur Fox. This up and coming accessories brand has some of the most beautiful and artfully crafted men’s accessories around, on par with the likes of Drakes London or Kiton.
Can you give us a little background information about yourself? What inspired you to start the company? You attended Harvard we’re told? Can you tell us about that and how menswear has impacted your life?
For years I did sales, business development and marketing for a variety of different businesses. These businesses consisted of water treatment, oil and gas services and hospitality, for example; all of which have nothing to do with menswear. Throughout all these different experiences though, I was always drawn to how we dress ourselves for work, for the weekend, at home, etc. Eventually I moved to Dubai and made the leap to launching my own brand. It’s been quite the educational experience. I was doing my Master’s in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard, however, when the opportunity came to actually live and experience the Middle East firsthand, I postponed my studies and haven’t gone back.
Stylistically, compared to some of the greatest places in the world, like Milan, New York and Paris, how do you think the menswear industry in Dubai compares?
Dubai is interesting. It’s at a bit of a crossroads of style in my opinion. The clientele here are generally still looking for a product that impresses other people. Something that says, “I can afford whatever I want”, whereas in more sophisticated markets, people are now looking for the brands that are subtle, discreet, unique and with incredible quality and ethics. For those shoppers, logos and huge brand names lack style, and I think Dubai will head in a similar direction, although it may take a few years yet.
Your products are some of the most beautiful we’ve seen; the colors, the patterns, the quality – what is your process in selecting these? You’re very well known for your cufflinks, as well. What goes into a product behind the scenes that the consumer never gets to see? Any plans to expand?
Thank you, always nice to hear! I work with a couple of artists and designers to turn themes or concepts into a colorful, fully realized pieces and typically the process can take 1-2 months of back and forth revisions. With pieces like pocket squares or scarves, the colors are so important. If the colors are off a bit, it’s hard for someone to pull them off within a traditional wardrobe. If our pieces are difficult for people to wear, it affects our sales, which is never a good thing.
This year you were able to present your products at Pitti Uomo 87. What was that experience like? For someone who has never been there, explain what Pitti Uomo is and why it’s a big deal.
Yes, this year we rented this beautiful apartment space right next Luisa Via Roma, with incredibly hand-worked wooden panels, painted with all sorts of colors and motifs. We shared the space with a shirt maker and created an enjoyable space, exploring our collections and just engaging in conversation amongst our clients. For me, Pitti Uomo is the best of menswear. A true menswear gathering that is aimed towards the “fashion” we see in places like Milan and Paris. This true, wearable menswear show has a breadth of applicability, and is approachable for the modern man. Pitti itself is the first, and the biggest, trade fair for men’s brands around the world to show themselves to retailers, buyers, press, bloggers, influencers, as well as meet and see what other brands are putting out there. It’s a great event and every season brings several new powerful brands to the forefront. We hope to become one of those brands.
Your product emulates classic Italian style, you are originally from New England, and you’re brand is based out of Dubai. It’s apparent that your pieces are inspired by your life experiences. Can you explain to us what it’s like to live in Dubai?
Dubai is a bit of an enigma. 50 years ago almost none of what you see existed, and certainly most of the world didn’t know anything about it. Yet, now it is the premier city in the Middle East, serving as both a playground and safe haven for the regions’ millions. It’s the only city that has a reliable, Western standard of living, and although there may only be about 350 million people in the Middle East, there are almost 1.5 billion in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and a huge portion of Northern Africa lives and works here, too. For this part of the world, there’s nothing similar, and it’s so much easier to travel here, as opposed to the US, the UK, Europe, etc., so that’s why it’s been the epicenter for regional growth and change.
We know that the perfect accessory can do wonders for a man’s look. What is your go-to accessory? Based on your own personal wardrobe, what three essential items do you find work in any situation?
Is it too easy to say a pocket square? I think it really depends on the guy. I never really enjoyed wearing cufflinks or ties, and now I’ve in fact turned myself into a huge wearer of both. What it comes down to for me is the way something is made. How it interacts, from the context of texture, color and the ability to fit within your wardrobe. Seeing someone wearing a poorly fitted shirt with an oversized jacket, or a matching tie and square in shiny cheap silk is such a tragedy. Although it sounds immensely unimportant in the scheme of things, one of the things we love most here at Monsieur Fox is when someone shows us how they’ve evolved their dressing. They are thankful to be able to learn about quality brands like Drake’s London, Crockett & Jones or Monsieur Fox.
You’ve stated in a previous interviews (BOE Magazine, 2013) the qualities of a Monsieur Fox:
“Monsieur Fox himself is sophisticated, yet relaxed, he is worldly with humility. Suave, yet without ostentatious display, just touches of charming whimsy throughout his attire and demeanor. Adventurous and a bit of a rogue, creating stories that become the legends told and re-told by all those who know him. Understated, retaining a lost aristocratic air, and tempered by empathy; by his mere presence, he gives others a feeling of elevation and good-will. A natural in any situation, Monsieur Fox is the elegant, modern rounder.”
What would you say his feelings are about a having a special woman in his life? Would he value these feeling since he values his sophisticated status and demeanor?
This is a GREAT question! I think one of the things that guys always have a hard time grappling with is the idea of being the suave, sophisticated rake, while at the same time working within the realities of creating meaningful relationships with a woman. Typically our image of the man about town doesn’t involve him being that concerned with a steady significant other, but I think we’re coming into a time where we are realizing these characteristics don’t need to be mutually exclusive. For example, I can go out and have a great time, meet all sorts of interesting people, and not feel that I need to be a womanizer or impress my fellow man by having a wake of torrid sexual relationships. On the other hand, having a life partner doesn’t mean you have to give up, buy the minivan and resign one self to sweatpants, cheap shoes and early evenings that end with the TV. Just like women who have emerged from the shadows of being stay at home wives or the expectation as child bearers, I think men who are faithful can set a similar shift in the definition of masculinity, specifically how it ties with our relationships with women.
Monsieur Fox products are all about changing a man’s appearance on the outside. However, in your opinion, what do you feel are some essential qualities of a Genuine Man on the inside? Would you consider yourself to be “genuine”?
You know, this is always a tough one. A gentleman in one place could be a complete dunce in another! However, I think in general, to be a genuine man you need to be elegant and behave smoothly in any given situation. Displaying a healthy amount of humility and self-deprecation also are traits needed, in my opinion. Men don’t always do this well, (our egos are so fragile!) but a man who can laugh at himself, or transition an awkward moment to one that is remembered fondly as a happy blunder, is such a fantastic and essential quality of the Genuine man. I’m not the best at it, but 15 years in restaurants and hospitality did help to give me a sense of when to appropriately apply humor to diffuse potentially disastrous or awkward situations.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the Genuine Men’s audience?
Remember that we are all a work in progress. Don’t hold yourself up to anybody but yourself. You’ll always find someone that is “better” than you in some way. Rather than envying them or wishing you had their traits, work and focus on yours. In the end, those traits are what will make you a Genuine Man. Thanks so much for the time and hope that all your readers are able check out Monsieur Fox and help us grow.
All photos are property of Monsieur Fox.