When it comes to having it all, Max and Lubov Azria are living proof. What began as a business relationship has spiraled into a whirlwind romance and dynamic design duo that has staying power in a somewhat fierce industry.
Max and Lubov Azria met when Max was interviewing Lubov for an associate designer position with BCBG Max Azria, which eventually led to a principal design role. Since this initial meeting, their union has invigorated a brand that stands as one of the most respected design houses in the fashion industry.
Their individual points of view set the stage for a dialogue that is both multifaceted and balanced, and one that constantly pushes the envelope.
“When Max hired me, one of his questions was ‘Are you global or are you detail oriented?’” Lubov said. “I said, ‘I am very detail oriented.’ He said, ‘Great! I am global.’ And that really defines it.”
The Azrias’ call to duty capitalizes on style, attitude, fashion, accessibility and business. And while their purpose is specific, the kind of women they design for are varied and rather eclectic.
“We have three very different customers we design for,” Lubov said. “BCBGMAXAZRIA Runway is designed for the woman that really either dances or dines, so they are dresses for socialite women. Max Azria, she is more of an artist. [She is] elegant and [the silhouette is] draped. Those two girls don’t really mix. Hervé Léger is completely different and very strong.”
Under the umbrella of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP is BCBGMAXAZRIA Runway and Ready-to-Wear, Hervé Léger by Max Azria, BCBGeneration, Max and Cleo, Lola and Manoukian, all which have enjoyed success in their own right.
Azria’s acquisition of French fashion house Hervé Léger in 1998 cemented his powerhouse status. While the iconic bandage dress was in existence long before Max took over– Hervé was founded in 1985–it was Max’s Midas touch that catapulted it to superstardom. The bandage dress is still very much a symbol of the brand, coveted by the A-list set and subject to countless imitations.
“It’s a very long process, there’s no pattern and everything is done and stitched by hand,” Lubov said.
“You basically mummify the dress form. You play and you drape the bands everywhere. [The dresses] are extremely sexy, and when you put them on, there’s a sense of power, strength and sex appeal.”
The bandage dress has been mimicked the world over– what lacks in the imposter garments, however, is that je ne sais quoi that comes by way of the Azria quality of construction.
However varied their brands are, both Max and Lubov fulfill roles independent of one another, each integral to managing said brands.
“Max is really more of a strategic visionary, and I am very much behind the scenes,” Lubov said. “I love details, working closely with people and I love making things happen. And Max is really the one who says, ‘We are going to conquer the world.’ And I’m like, ‘Ok honey! Lets go!’”
The admiration that the couple share for one another is apparent, a bond which undoubtedly translates into the harmony seen in their many successful collections.
Max Azria’s rise to greatness began more than two decades ago, when the designer opened his first freestanding boutique in Paris.
“Max used to be a retailer, so he had his own store, and he had his business in Paris. He’s been around for a long time, and I think [that] once you’ve been around for more than 20 years, and you start your own business again–this is his second time, right cookie?” she asks Max, a rhetorical question, seeing as how she is able to finish Max’s sentences all on her own. “He knows how to balance and use both sides of his brain, the creative one and the analytical one; and he loves business as much as he loves the creative side.”
This breed of designer/businessman is a combination that is otherwise unseen in the fashion industry. Max uses his business savvy to properly drive his forward-thinking design aesthetic. The end result is the origination of a women’s clothing brand that creates beauty from the inside out.
But it is BCBG that really spans the economic divides within the fashion world, making high fashion apparel accessible.
“I think that you kind of have to have a niche in the market, and for me growing up in a middle class family, I could never afford expensive clothes,” Lubov said. “I always felt like I wasn’t good enough to wear dresses that were $1,000, because I knew I could never afford it.”
And it is with Lubov’s relatability that the Max Azria brand has been able to span the gap between high fashion and attainable fashion.
“My goal as a designer was to create beautiful clothes for affordable prices, and it’s a dream in some way,” she said. “I always wanted to do that. I wanted the woman to feel beautiful, without spending a car payment to make that happen. Women are doing so many things; we’re multitasking and we deserve the best. If I can give the best of the best to a woman through clothing, then that’s my purpose in life.”
In addition to this, Max’s daughters Joyce and Marina have served as a source of inspiration.
“There is a phrase in French that goes ‘bon chic bon genre,’ meaning ‘good style, good attitude,’” Lubov said. “This concept was really inspired by his girls.” In fact, it was this particular saying, ‘bon chic bon genre,’ that became the acronym known around the world– at least in the fashion world, that is.
Max Azria has attested that in matters of taste and poise, the two go hand in hand.
The range of BCBG is one that can hardly be summarized in three words, but when faced with the challenge, the design power couple came up with the perfectly appropriate description.
“We can do it in four words,” Max said. “Bon chic, bon genre!”