Azamit is many things. A voice: full, deep and calm, punctuated by bursts of laughter. A physique: long and willowy, an Eritrean who exudes composure and grace. A style: unique, extraordinary, on trend. And a life philosophy that is inspired by meetings, collaborations, sharing, respect, discovery, and creative and intellectual stimulation. A Montrealer for 25 years now, Azamit has always lived in the fashion universe. After studying Fashion Design at Collège Lasalle and Fibres et Textile at École Supérieur des Arts Appliqués Dupérré, she started out as a model but quickly turned her attention to fashion design, a career she pursued out of sheer passion, which she has been devoted to for over 15 years. In her dizzying daily schedule, accompanied by her adorable Italian greyhound Tsuki Chichin, advertising campaigns follow editorials, in prestigious fashion magazines, including ELLE Québec, ELLE Canada and Dress To Kill.
As she carved out her path, she became friends with Montréal designers and, one year, wanting to help out a jeweler girlfriend, founded the souk @ sat. That was 13 years ago. Now one of the industry’s most cutting-edge and popular local markets, Azamit made it her duty, not without a great deal of temerity and patience, to launch and promote local talents. “I like giving a product value and elevating it,” she says, in the interview she managed to squeeze in to her very busy schedule. Here, a tenacious and audacious public figure lets us in on her creative Montréal.
How would you define the Montréal style?
I think Montréal has more of a vibe than a style. It’s a state of mind. Style can be copied, so here people seek out the authentic. It’s an ambiance that’s rare to find in the world, this combination of laid-back, family-oriented and creative.
What is your best Montréal memory?
Montréal has a poetic aura about it. Each spring is a new beginning, a renaissance: you fall in love with the city again and have the impression of starting all over. Montréal is also kind of crazy. The beginning of the 90s were filled with amazing underground happenings and drag queen parties. There were the nights at K.O.X., Squeez, Métropolis and the SAT, in the very beginning, when it was still on Sainte-Catherine Street and Bruno from Laïka got the party going with his brilliant programming.
Your next big project?
Soon everything will be on Azamit Projects. It’s a really special collaboration with local artists, a project inspired by the city, Montréal design and the fruit of 15 years of partnership, passion, fashion design, curating and artistic direction. Azamit Pop-Up Home, which I organized this past July, is just a peek, a drop in the bucket of the size of the project I’m working on. I’m so excited!
What Montréal artisans and creative types do you recommend for…
Where can we find you in Montréal for…
At Café Olimpico for its laid-back feel.
At Caffè Italia because I love being surrounded by real Italians.
At Campanelli because I adore the area (the neighbourhood of Saint-Henri) and grabbing a really good little sandwich.
Café Falco, Olive & gourmando, Café Parvis and Lawrence. They are unpretentious spots, super down to earth, relaxing and full of life, with quality food, always. You want to stay in these places forever.
Hôtel Herman, Le Serpent, Kazu, Le Bremner, Liverpool and Le Filet. I love drinking wine while nibbling on top-notch dishes. My biggest crush is Kazu, where I really have the impression of being in Japan, in the middle of a local isakaya.
Les Étoffes for their amazing, on-trend selection.
Michel Brisson which, in my opinion, is the best store for men in the city.
Cahier d’Exercices for their magnificent luxury selection.
Drawn & Quarterly: it’s utter joy browsing this little bookstore.
Savoie & Fils for the very male vibe and where you can sit down for a coffee too.
Éditions de robe to find the dress. An excellent boutique with a selection that runs from casual to very chic.
Off the Hook for streetwear and running shoes for men and women. The boutique also offers some superb exclusive collaborations.
Want Apothecary for its modern feel.
What are some Montréal musts for visitors?
Fall: Visit cafés and walk in the parks. The city has a very nostalgic quality about it at this time of the year.
Summer: There’s a festival for everyone out there! Personally, I get the most excited about Osheaga. I fell in love with Village au Pied-du-Courant, which held its second edition this year. You also have to walk around the Jean-Talon Market, visit the Westmount Greenhouses and flake out in a park, a true Montréal tradition. I especially recommend Parc Outremont, my favourite.
Spring: Discover 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) created by Daily tous les jours on the Promenade des Artistes.
Year-long: See Habitat 67 and the Biosphère on Île Sainte-Hélène. Visit museums and art galleries, the Phi Centre, DHC/ART, Arsenal, the Musée d’art contemporain and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. And make sure to try Saint-Viateur Bagel, a veritable Mile-End institution.
Parc Jean-Drapeau for an architectural outing and picnic with a view of the city skyline.
Little Burgundy and Saint-Henri: the new “in” neighbourhoods. A bike ride along the Lachine Canal is a must!
Westmount and downtown for a chic and cultural experience.
The Plateau, the “Main”, for its artsy vibe, combined with a walk under the trees of Mount Royal to the Belvedère (lookout) at the top.
Little Italy and Villeray for the local, family-oriented, very authentic ambiance.