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Lubov Azria: BCBG Will Do Home Goods; Four Academy of Art Grads Win Dream Internships

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Photos via Randy Brooke/WireImage

Lubov Azria, creative director of the various BCBG brands, and her husband Max Azria, were in San Francisco earlier this month to receive honorary doctorate degrees from the Academy of Art University. They accepted their awards after a spectacular fashion show at the Palace of Fine Arts from the 2013 graduates of AAU's fashion program. Before the party got started, we sat down for a chat with the trés chic designer, and learned her secrets to staying focused, working with your husband, which designers inspire her (you might be surprised!), and loads more. The mother of three has been married to Mr. Azria for 21 years, so she's got plenty of knowledge to bestow.

She and her husband also awarded four internships to AAU grad students: Andrea Nieto, Winbo Shiau, Kyung Hwa Kim, and Sarah Engelman. See some of their designs in the gallery, and read the rest of the interview below!

How would you describe the BCBG girl?

We have four types of women who we design for in the BCBG category. One of them is called "connoisseur," a working mom who needs clothes that are practical and beautiful and she wants to stand out. The second customer is "socialite," she really doesn't have a job, or if she does it's more social, so she loves dresses and standing out in a crowd and everything is dressed up. The third type of customer is called "visionary," and this is someone who works in the industry and who truly loves fashion. She loves details, special cuts, and things like this. The fourth one is "urban rock," the rock and roll girl. So when we design for BCBG we make sure there's something for all four girls in the line. But the BCBG woman, she's practical, she's on the forefront of fashion, she knows what she wants, and she's us!

How about Herve Leger?

The way we descirbe Herve Leger is she's a very powerful, strong woman. This particular woman knows what she wants and that's what she gets. It's really about self confidence when it comes to Herve Leger. You need to be strong, tough, powerful, visionary.

So you have to have the confidence first, it's not like you're getting confidence from the clothing.

Absolutely. Otherwise if you put on a Herve Leger dress you'll probably start sweating right away.

It's a sexy look!

Sexy, but I've seen many women wear Herve Leger—one of our really good customers is 80 years old and she loves the way Herve Leger makes her feel. She feels young and beautiful; it's her. And there's another customer whe have who's size 16 and she's amazing. When she walks out she is just beaming, and then I have models who are gorgeous and they would never put Herve Leger on because it's too much for them. So I think it's about confidence. It's about personal strength.

With all the different brands you're in charge of...

There are actually not so many brands. Over the years we've acquired some and opened some brands but now it's all about streamlining and focusing on our core brands which are BCBGMAXAZRIA, Runway, Generation and Herve Leger.

Speaking of focus, do you have any tips for working women for staying organized and focused?

I think in life what's important is balance. You know how when you get on the plane there's a safety message that says when the oxygen mask comes down, put the mask on yourself first, and then your child? In life it's the same thing. If you put other people in front of you that doesn't make you a better person it just makes you stressed out. I think it's really about finding out what your needs are and meeting those needs, and then moving on, whether you're in fashion or any other business.

I think in terms of clothes and looking good and feeling good, you need to understand what works for you, what colors work for you, what you look good in and that's what you go after. I don't believe that people dress based on trends. I believe that people dress based on their body shape. There are certain things that just won't look good no matter how trendy—you'll just look at it and say "nope, sorry."

Do you have some favorite designers who inspire you?

Yes, one of my favorite designers is Martin Margiela, I also absolutely adore Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. I like designers who take a risk and I like the idea that they create fashion that truly represents their views. They're not commercial and I think it's fantastic. It's like buying a piece of art, so I support them.

What did you think of the Margiela for H&M collection?

I loved it. I think they did a really good job with the packaging and everything, it was great. Every time you do a project like that you're educating the consumer and I think it's so important. I think my kids didn't even know who Margiela was until they saw it at H&M. It's fantastic, I think they should do more of those collaborations.

How do you feel about the San Francisco retail market? Are you planning any openings?

We have to remodel a few stores so we're looking forward to some updates. But San Francisco is the number four richest city—there are more millionaires per square foot than in Los Angeles, for example, so I think there's definitely potential. To me the most important thing is educating the consumer about how you wear it and the whole thing because I think that if she doesn't understant it, she's not going to come shopping no matter how much money she has.

I saw an article in Harper's Bazaar about your gorgeous home, and you designed much of it yourself.

Yes, I am a frustrated interior decorator, on the side.

Would you ever go into home goods?

I would love that, that's definitely in the future.

We would love to see that.

Me too actually!

How important are celebrities to your business?

They're very important. There are no true icons or idols, and I think the young generation is really searching. So weather it's music or in the movies I think it's really important to be connected to the ones who represent the brand the best. So it's important, but I really prefer seeing my clothes on the real customers, the real woman. That gives me the biggest joy.

You work in partnershop with your husband, is that easy? Challenging?

The great thing about our relationship is that Max is 18 years older than I am, so there's a lot of respect. Max is my mentor, so it's a quite different relationship than I think people who are the same age or have less of a difference. So I respect him, we work together as a team, he's a visionary and I'm very detail oriented so we compliment each other.

So he's more big picture...

Yes, he's the one who says, "I'm going to open 10 stores," and I'm like "Alright, how are we going to do that."

You guys have been married for more than 20 years, any tips for making a marriage last?

Respect. The moment you lose respect for your husband that's it, the marriage is gone. Also, have your space. It's important to miss each other and not be around each other all the time. I believe it's important to have your time and that he has his time. And always, always, communication is so important.