Max Azria's American Dream Featured

A conversation with the French-Tunisian designer Max Azria, the man behind BCBG's fashion empire

His empire is worth a few million dollars, a fact that seems to please Max Azria considerably. The smiling and relaxed French-Tunisian, having immigrated to the United States, now successfully manages 22 labels and has just bought out the German department store chain Karstadt. Luxos wanted to learn more about this fashion designer and intelligent businessman.

Why did you settle in the United States?
I left France in 1981 in search of a sunny climate. Los Angeles was the ideal city where I could combine working in the fashion industry with a pleasant lifestyle.

How do you explain your immediate success, starting with the opening of your first boutique in the United States? Is it a case of the “French” touch catching on?
I have tried to combine European sophistication with the American “casual” style. BCBG [bon chic bon genre] stands for “good style, good attitude.”

You set out to dress all women, from teenagers to wealthy American women. Was targeting a "wide market" important to you?
Yes, it has always been very important to me to dress women of all ages and all social levels. I have 22 labels, ranging from mass market to haute couture (Walmart with Miley Cyrus, Dorotennis, Dorothée bis, Manoukian, BCBG, Max Azria, Hervé Leger, BCBG Génération …). Young girls come into the BCBG boutiques with their mothers and grandmothers and they all leave with full shopping bags.

You have always thought it important that the stars wear “your” clothes. Do you think that celebrities have contributed to your success?
Absolutely. I have always dressed celebrities for both big occasions and their daily life. This has contributed to my recognition. I have had the pleasure of dressing women as different as Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé, Sharon Stone, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Kristen Stewart, Miley Cyrus, and Lou Doillon, to mention just a few...

It seems you were not satisfied with a single brand, are you always looking to set up new ones?
This was not my main objective, but then many opportunities arose and things just seemed to fall into place. I am a driven person and my motto is: “let’s go slowly, I am in a hurry.”

Are you proud of the recognition you receive from the fashion world, particularly with three labels being presented during New York Fashion Week?
This recognition drives me to go forward with the expansion of the group, in fact we are about to sign the buyout of the German department store Karstadt.

How do you manage all these labels and brands? What is your typical day like?
I never stop; I work a lot, but I am fortunate because I love what I do and I have a great team. I don’t need much sleep, so my days are long. However, when I take my holidays, they are real holidays! A typical day: up at 6 o’clock, off to the office, where I start a string of meetings. My favourite pastime? Going to a BCBG boutique and observing the customers from a distance...

How would you define today’s woman?
It is all in the attitude. Women pay more attention to their appearance and their figure. We live longer and the seduction game lasts from the age of 15 to over 60...

Which restaurant would you recommend in Paris?
Le Costes.

A favourite place?
Le musée du Louvre.

A nice area to walk around?
I love walking along the little streets in St Germain des Pres and visit art galleries. I also love the Palais Royal gardens.

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