Max Azria was born in Tunisia in 1949 and started designing in his early twenties, after moving to Paris. He settled in Los Angeles in 1981, where he launched the label Jess. In 1988 he became a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, showing his influence in the fashion world. This was also the year that he purchased the House of Hervé Léger, a significant deal as this was the first time that a French couturier had been bought by a U.S.-based designer.
Eight years after the launch of Jess, Azria founded BCBG Max Azria, which is seen as a lifestyle brand. The brand name is an acronym for bon chic, bon genre (good style, good life). It showed at New York Fashion Week for the first time in 1996, the same year that Azria’s wife became creative director of the company. Azria runs Max Azria Atelier (launched in 1994) concurrently with BCBG; this is a couture line.
In 2005 Max Azria designed costumes for a show called The Ten Commandments, for which he focused mainly on the fabric’s texture and breathability. The following February he launched a ready-to-wear label called Max Azria.
Azria relaunched the House of Hervé Léger in 2007, and in 2008 Azria had another first as BCBG Max Azria, Max Azria Collection, and Hervé Léger by Max Azria all showed during New York Fashion Week. By 2011 the company had had 349 boutiques and 229 concessions.
The lines and projects discussed above all come under the umbrella of the BCBG Max Azria Group, which encompasses over twenty brands catering to a variety of demographics. Max Azria is the CEO of this group, which has suffered from financial problems because of rapid expansion.
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