BCBGMaxAzria is no stranger to the red carpet. Hollywood’s leading women have been wearing the American label’s tulle, chiffon, and silk to fête film premieres and gala events for years. But the red carpet rolled out at the global headquarters just outside of Los Angeles, in Vernon, California, and this year might just be the most monumental event so far. A retrospective exhibition entitled “Living the Bon Chic Life” lined the halls for several weeks to mark the 25th anniversary of the global brand.
“Doing this retrospective was the moment in my career where it just put everything into perspective,” Lubov Azria, BCBGMaxAzria’s chief creative officer, reveals. “It just made me so proud to see how much we have accomplished and grown over the past 25 years.” In Vancouver, she makes one final stop on her tour across North America, celebrating the anniversary east to west, city after city. She is statuesque and glowing—certainly more than just the California sun—with a black and white Mexican-inspired bolero around her shoulders. Intimidatingly beautiful might just be the words, but as a warm smile breaks, you can immediately see how she embodies the brand. Stunning, and approachable. “It’s exciting!” she exclaims. “I saw the collection from the first show we did and could remember it all. It’s crazy.”
Max Azria, chairman and CEO, and Lubov’s husband of 22 years, founded BCBGMaxAzria in 1989. His vision to create a design house for the “modern woman” came to life when Lubov joined as a designer and pattern maker in 1991, and was named creative director in 1996. Since then, the brand has expanded into collections featuring evening wear, cocktail attire, sportswear, handbags, footwear, swimwear, and more. To date, more than 570 BCBGMaxAzria stores can be found in 47 countries around the world, bringing accessible luxury to countries like Japan, Portugal, Russia, Chile, and more. Not to mention the racks they stock at such department stores as Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford. In 1998, they acquired the storied fashion house and renowned purveyor of the bandage dress, Hervé Léger, marking the first time in fashion history that a French couturier was absorbed by an American designer. Lubov led the design team through eight years of research, modernizing the signature bandage construction technique. BCBGMaxAzriaGroup’s re-launch of the label in 2008 with fresh designs can be thanked for reinvigorating the world’s appreciation for bodycon. The following year saw the premiere of BCBGeneration, a younger contemporary take on their wildly successful fashion formula.
There have been plenty of star-studded moments in the past 25 years for BCBGMaxAzria, too many to count. But Lubov recalls one particular photo op with Sharon Stone, who wore a pale pink Atelier dress to amfAR at the Cannes Film Festival one year, with just as much excitement as if it were the first. “That pretty much like, ‘Wow!’ The dress sold for over $100,000. She had a choice of 50 dresses and she chose that one. It was a very cool and memorable moment that I won’t forget.”
Lubov’s genuine passion and a perspective that is decidedly non-jaded can account for why, with all the trappings of global domination present, BCBGMaxAzria has managed to stay simultaneously ahead of the curve and accessible to the masses, often in just a single dress. “Making women feel and look beautiful is my biggest reason as to why we are in business,” she explains. Early on in her career, after discovering the disappointment of a staggering price tag herself, she vowed to help women wear beautiful dresses for less. She certainly saw it through, as you’d be hard pressed to find a prom or cocktail party without a BCBGMaxAzria dress today. When a woman doesn’t have access to borrowing couture or an unlimited expense account for dresses to channel Angelina Jolie or Eva Mendes at her next event—well, even if she does—chances are she will head to BCBGMaxAzria. “We are relatable and understand our customers. This notion along with fit and consistency is what keeps our customers coming back.”
So what could possibly be next for the celebrated fashion conglomerate? “I see the company evolving into a lifestyle brand where we would touch upon a variety of markets, such as home and lingerie,” Lubov muses. “We already have come such a long way in that we are a global brand that speaks to the global woman. We want to become a part of these women’s everyday life.”