The UpTake: Here's one thing positive that came out of the U.S. housing crisis: the idea for a fashion brand called Citzyen by Azin that creates beautiful dresses and scarves by taking a bird's eye view of cities around the world.
Foreign travels inspire designer Azin Valy—there's nothing unusual about that: consider Tory Burch's tunics or the African influence on Diane von Furstenberg's prints. What is unique about Valy is her perspective.
The founder of New York-based fashion and accessories brand Cityzen by Azin, who made her New York Fashion Week debut yesterday, is an architect and a topography geek, and so her luxury scarves and dresses incorporate satellite views of cities from around the world onto fabrics and leather. This leads to some liberal translations of aerial topography into apparel: a silk strap represents a river; a neckline channels a mountain view; and a road creates a transition area within each strikingly colorful garment.
In an interview before her presentation in SoHo, Valy told me her interest in fashion flared up, crazily enough, because of the U.S. housing crisis. I-Beam Design, the architecture firm she cofounded with Suzan Wines, was nominated to create a 2011 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art about the U.S. housing crisis, which would depict what the housing model of the future would be. While the firm didn't ultimately get chosen for the exhibit, a business idea formed as Valy was studying U.S. cities such as the San Francisco Bay area and towns in Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey, looking at topographical maps and photos of the affected areas.
"Looking at these cities from above, I thought they're so beautiful and yet filled with so much crisis," Valy said.
Other designs from her collection, which is made in the USA, have been inspired by events in foreign cities, such as the Arab Spring and the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. Visitors to her website are invited to "suggest a city" and the hope is that the pieces will inspire a sense of global citizenship.