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Lubov Azria, wife of Max Azria and Chief Creative Officer of the couple’s triple threat family of brands—Hervé Léger by Max Azria, Max Azria, and BCBGMAXAZRIA—is on a multi-city meet-and-greet this summer to garner buzz for BCBG's Fall 2012 collection. The line, which Azria says was "inspired by sport and the summer Olympics, with hints of Russian peasant" (see above for an example of what that looks like), drops in stores this August. We caught up with Lubov in Seattle and chatted with her about need vs. want, what it takes to pull off a bandage dress, and how to turn a blanket into a dress.—Alison Brownrigg
Racked: Is runway your baby?
Lubov Azria: Actually, they're all my babies. I oversee the designs for each line. But to me, runway is an aspirational collection. To be successful you have to find a balance between what you want and what you need. Runway is what you want. Casual, comfortable, practical everyday clothes are what you need. They may be beautiful, but not necessarily fashion forward. It's a balance. You can't have all of one type in your closet.
Racked: You brought Hervé Léger back to the spotlight in 2007 after acquiring the brand. How do you re-envision that line each season?
LA: Since it's based on the classic hourglass silhouette, we don't want to reinvent that iconic shape that the Hervé Léger dress is known for. I mean, we can add a flip here, or a slight A-line there, but we're not interested in starting suiting or something that it's not. So, we focus on the bandage technique, evolving and getting better at that particular weave, working with artists and designers to plan color schemes and themes. The woman who loves Hervé Léger loves it for the bandage weave.
Racked: The BCBG runway collection is flowing while Hervé Léger is fitted and body conscious. It's almost two different women you're talking to, since many women find the thought of wearing something so tight somewhat daunting.
LA: It's all about attitude. I used to be dancer, so for me, fashion is all about dressing up. Hervé Léger is all about attitude. The woman who looks the best in that line is the one who feels comfortable and beautiful in the dresses—regardless of her size. Many models can't pull off a Hervé Léger, but I have a client who is a size 16 and loves herself in them. It's that power. A woman who walks in wearing a Hervé Léger gets noticed and that's what they want. You have one life to live, go out and live it in beautiful clothes. People feel so much better about themselves when they're dressed well.
Racked: BCBG's Fall 2012 collection is stunning and very cohesive. That Bauhaus-inspired color blocking with the drop-waisted 1920s silhouette is such a striking look. Was it hard to keep that constant without being repetitive?
LA: What we did at first was create about 15 blankets with different blocked colors and then we started draping with them, so each dress was always it's own thing from the beginning. It was about making sure the silhouettes, fabric, and color combos were cohesive. We have about 10 minutes on the runway to tell a story and if those aspects don't work, we can't tell our story. It's like a little puzzle that comes together.
Racked: You're a self-proclaimed perfectionist, but you seem to retain such grace under pressure. How do you manage that?
LA: (Laughing) Well at some point you have to let go. It's like with your kids, you can't control what they do, they have to make their own mistakes. You have to hope that everything turns out right. And actually that's how miracles happen, it's sometimes hard to let go and allow them to.
Racked: How much of your personal style makes it into the designs you approve?
LA: I think with a creative brand, it's all about your personal style. Or maybe more about your personal taste. Your aesthetic gets translated through the taste you're born with. Being European, being a dancer, and all those influences have really affected the things I associate with beauty. That becomes a taste level that I compare things to and is the lens that I use to make my creative choices.
Racked: BCBG is a very accessible line, both in terms of style and price. Was that a deliberate choice?
LA: Yes, it's my goal to make all women feel beautiful. The small things really matter to us and we could mark things up more, but that's not the point. I fit every piece that comes out of BCBG and I insist on details like French seams and tags that can be easily removed without damaging the garment. Everything is hand fed through a machine by a person. It's an attention to the details that I insist on because I do believe that the woman wearing the piece deserves the best. In fact, here's a tip: since all our garments are essentially made by hand, they're all a little different. If one size small doesn't fit quite right, try another size small. Seriously, one of the workers could have had a bad day that day!
· Max Azria Only Works Five Hours a Day, and Other Things We Learned From His Speech at Harvard [Racked]
· BCBG Max Azria's Runway After-Party: America's Best Dance Crew! [Racked]