Fashion Flashback: Max Azria

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If you not familiar with the bandage dress, you should pull your head out the sand!! The late, great Max Azria acquired Herve Leger, the company that created the bandage dress/bodycon dress in 1988. And though Max didn’t create the bandage dress, he is credited with his acquisition of Herve Leger of bringing new attention to and popularizing the bandage dress.

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Interestingly, Max Azria and Herve Leger died within two years of each other. And it almost impossible to separate one from the other; particularly if you are a consumer.

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The Tunisian-born Max Azria moved to Paris with his family in 1963, working with his brother on women’s clothing lines, Joie, Equipment, and Current/Elliot. In 1981 Max Azria moved to California and opened Jess, a chain of fashion boutiques with the concept of quality, luxury fabrics at affordable prices.

Max Azria carried this concept into his groundbreaking women’s wear brand BCBG Max Azria, which was launched in Los Angeles in 1989. BCBG stands for bon chic, bon genre which French translates to mean good style, good attitude. “I was wondering why designers were selling products at $1,000 that we can make a good profit and good living by selling at $500,” Mr. Azria told The Los Angeles Times in 2014. “I wanted to give fashion to more people.”

And that is just what he did. Though celebrities have worn BCBG Max Azria, the bulk of sales have been with everyday consumers. By the late 90s, Max Azria had opened hundreds of stores in Europe and the US, at its peak 550 stores globally with retail sales exceeding $1 billion.

Additionally, Max Azria was a consistent presenter during New York Fashion (NYFW), presenting since 1996. Max Azria is given little credit for being one the first commercial brands to present during NYFW, opening the doors for other commercial brands to present.

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After acquiring Herve Leger in 1998, Max Azria launched BCBGenerations and Max Azria Atelier in the 2000s. Even doing a collaboration with Miley Cyrus for H&M in 2009.

With the advent of fast fashion stores like Zara and H&M crowding and saturating the market, by the 2010s, Max Azria’s company found itself $400 million in debt. The many acquisitions of the company helped facilitate this debt. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017, closing 120 stores. Marquee Brands bought the company in late 2017 for $100 million dollars.

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Max Azria died from lung cancer on May 6 in Houston, Texas. He is survived by his wife Lubov and their daughter.


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