BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP is taking the world by storm. With critically acclaimed collections, a loyal following of Hollywood’s top celebrities and a strong worldwide presence, this fashion powerhouse has evolved into one of the hottest names in the fashion industry today.
Founded in 1989, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP is the lifetime vision of one man: Founder, Designer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Max Azria. In 1981, after eleven years of designing a line of women’s wear in his native Paris, Azria moved to the United States and launched Jess, a series of new-concept retail boutiques offering hip French fashion to American women. After years of success, Azria decided to pursue his dream of launching a design house that spoke to the modern woman-thus BCBGMAXAZRIA was born. Named for the French phrase bon chic, bon genre, a Parisian slang meaning “good style, good attitude,” the brand embodies a true combination of European sophistication and American spirit.
Key to BCBGMAXAZRIA’s success has been Azria’s ability to maintain his creativity while maximizing his keen business sense. As one of today’s rare breed of designer-businessmen, Azria used his talent to create a new platform in the industry. With the launch of the BCBGMAXAZRIA brand, he redefined the designer category by offering innovative, high-quality clothing at contemporary price points. As a result, Azria was inducted to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1998.
Lubov Azria, Chief Creative Officer of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP and Max’s wife, joined the company as a designer in 1991 and was named Creative Director in 1996. Under Lubov’s influence, the BCBGMAXAZRIA brand has evolved from an emerging contemporary line to one of America’s leading design houses, with collections that include evening dresses, denim, outerwear, footwear, swimwear, handbags and small leather goods. In recognition of her accomplishments as a designer and creative leader, Lubov Azria was inducted into the CFDA in 2010.
Striving to realize Max’s vision, the Azrias introduced additional product categories through a series of licensing agreements with some of the industry’s most reputable companies, including the world leader in men’s shirting, Philips-Van Heusen Corporation, for men’s dress shirts and ties, which launched in Summer 2004. This licensing deal was closely followed by similar agreements with Geneva Watch Co. for women’s watches, Colors in Optics for sunwear and ClearVision for optical eyewear in Spring 2005.
Reinforcing BCBGMAXAZRIA as a premier American fashion brand, Max and Lubov Azria successfully launched the collection on the runway for the first time during New York’s Fall 1996 Fashion Week. The following season, The New York Times hailed, “Mr. Azria imbued his collection with worldly élan.” In February 2006, in response to both their critical success and the needs and aspirations of their most discerning customers, the Azrias launched an exclusive runway designer collection called Max Azria. The collection allows the designers to explore their creativity full force, ultimately resulting in a line of directional, sophisticated designs in the most luxurious fabrics. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Rachel Bilson, Eva Mendes and others became fast fans of the brands and list BCBGMAXAZRIA and Max Azria as staples in their wardrobes.
At the other end of the design spectrum is the Azrias’ highly exclusive collection of couture gowns, launched in February 2004 under the label Max Azria Atelier. Taking inspiration from the glamour and sensuality of Hollywood, Max and Lubov create opulent and elegant one-of-a-kind gowns for celebrity clients and red-carpet events. Sharon Stone, Halle Berry, Beyoncé Knowles, Alicia Keys, Lucy Liu, Fergie and others have walked the red carpet wearing Max Azria Atelier.
In 1998 BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP acquired the esteemed Hervé Léger fashion house, marking the first time in history that a French couturier had been absorbed by an American designer. The Azrias relaunched the Hervé Léger label in early 2007 with their own designs, which have since been embraced by celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Diane Kruger, Rihanna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Catherine Zeta-Jones. For Fall 2008, in addition to showing BCBCMAXAZRIA and Max Azria during New York Fashion Week, the Azrias presented the Hervé Léger by Max Azria collection. This marked the first time that an American designer produced three major fashion shows for three distinct collections during one New York Fashion Week.
The Fall 2008 season also witnessed the merging of the BCBGirls and To The Max collections to create one, comprehensive, young-contemporary lifestyle brand named BCBGeneration, which is designed for women of all generations seeking fashion that balances a feminine, sexy aesthetic with an eclectic, urban sensibility. In Fall 2009, the Group expanded again to include a new collection with teen superstar Miley Cyrus, appropriately titled Miley Cyrus & Max Azria, that retails exclusively at Walmart and offers customers affordable and trend-right apparel. Arriving in stores in early August, the line includes tops, pants, graphic tees, shoes and accessories, all priced below $20.
On the business front, late August 2005 saw two strategic acquisitions important for the Group’s future growth: the France-based designer and distributor Alain Manoukian (renamed Manoukian in 2007) and the Spain-based designer and distributor Don Algodén. Both companies served as valuable springboards for the Group’s European expansion. Continuing the company’s rapid domestic growth in February 2006, BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP acquired G+G Retail, which operated over 400 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico under the names Rave, Rave Girl and G+G.
Throughout his career, Azria has personally received a multitude of awards, including California Designer of the Year (1995), Atlanta Designer of the Year (1996), the Fashion Performance Award (1997) for outstanding performance and influence within the fashion industry, and the prestigious Spirit of Life Award (1997) from the City of Hope. In 1998 Divine Design honored Azria as Women’s Designer of the Year, and General Motors selected him as their spokesperson for Concept:Cure, an internationally renowned charity that supports breast cancer research and awareness. Azria was further honored with the Otis Fashion Achievement Award (2000) from Otis College of Art and Design, Hollywood Life’s Breakthrough Award (2004) for outstanding achievements within the entertainment industry and the Dallas Fashion Award (2005) for excellence in the contemporary category. In 2007 he was presented with the Wells Fargo Century Fashion Achievement Award at the L.A. Fashion Awards and with the Woodbury Design Award in acknowledgement of his vision and innovation. In recognition of the successful relaunch of the Hervé Léger brand, Azria was presented with the 2008 Fashion Excellence Award at the 33rd Annual Dallas Fashion Awards.
In June 2007, Max and Lubov Azria co-chaired with Kate Bosworth the Fifth Annual Art Party benefit celebrating the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program (ISP). The Azrias returned as co-chairs of the event for four consecutive years. They hosted the event in 2008 with Rachel Bilson, producing a special Hervé Léger collaboration with artist E.V. Day, and again in 2009 with Camilla Belle, collaborating with artist Mark Fox on a specially designed umbrella celebrating BCBGMAXAZRIA’s 20th anniversary. In 2010 the Azrias co-chaired with Emilie Ravin and worked with four ISP alumni to create one-of-a-kind hand-painted BCBGMAXAZRIA Runway dresses to be auctioned off at the event.
Adding to the list of successes, the Azrias have become retail giants, owning and operating over 550 BCBGMAXAZRIA retail boutiques throughout the world, with each serving as a consummate showcase for their women’s ready-to-wear and accessory collections. Within the United States, there are currently over 180 BCBGMAXAZRIA boutiques. On an international level, BCBGMAXAZRIA opened its first two European boutiques in 1999, with a flagship located in the most significant shopping district in Paris. With additional international boutiques located in Canada, Venezuela, Chile, Portugal, Greece, Bahrain, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and other countries, the retail network is now present throughout the world.
To complete the retail phenomenon, the Azrias’ collections are also sold in specialty stores and in-store shops in major department stores across the globe, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s, the UK’s Harvey Nichols, Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford, Taiwan’s Mitsukoshi and Singapore’s Takashimaya stores.
Since the company’s start in 1989, Max and Lubov Azria have succeeded in building an impressive portfolio of twelve brands: BCBGMAXAZRIA, BCBGMAXAZRIA Runway, Max Azria Atelier, Hervé Léger by Max Azria, Hervé Léger Couture, BCBGeneration, Max and Cleo, Lola, Manoukian, Parallel, Dorothée Bis and Dorotennis. They have evolved BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP into one of the most diversified fashion houses in the world, offering some of the most sought-after collections on the market. While immediate objectives include the further expansion of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP product categories and retail boutique locations globally, the Azrias’ long-term goals are to continuously grow their fashion empire and further establish BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP as a worldwide powerhouse of style.
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