After Hérve Léger Spring 2013 took us down a sultry road to Gee's Bend, Alabama and melded southern quilt making with sexy bandaged styles, we got a chance to hear from Lubov Azria — creative force behind the BCBG imprint and wife to Max Azria — in an intimate American Express Skybox setting. After giving us a look at business and home with Max, and the work it takes to turn strips into Hérve's signature looks, she delved into the world of "chardonnay shopping," remaining relevant after 20 years, and being ready to work your way up in the industry.
On the pros and cons of online shopping in the retail world:
Shopping online is so much easier than going to the store with such limiting time that we have right now. I mean, anytime that I got to the store, it takes me an hour just to even browse, [then] to put anything on, really, I check back and it's three hours of my time. I'm sure all of us have really busy lifestyles. So what I do, I call it "chardonnay shopping." In the evening, I diffuse, and sip at the computer. The great thing about the internet is that you can look at a lot of things. In terms of buying, I think that a lot of people do buy from the internet. I think with videos, it's going to help a lot of people buy more because pictures don't always show you all the details... but, I think that you don't get that customer service, that love. I think a majority of people go shopping not to buy new clothes, because none of us really need new clothes. What we do need is that connection. We need that connection, we need to touch, we need to feel.
On staying relevant in the fickle world of fashion:
First of all, I am the consumer, so I am very picky. I only want the best in all the lines that I work on... I also fit every, single piece that comes out of Hérve Léger. I am in the fitting room for two hours, every single day, fitting every single piece. If it's not perfect, I will not let it out. I think that consistency, and me being so hands-on, and Max being so hands-on with the business element, that's why we've lasted so long. I dress a woman who wants to look and feel beautiful. I think the consumer is much smarter than most designers — they don't want to be in foolish clothes, they want to be in the most beautiful clothes, because it's their life.
On her favorite fashion show memory:
Not so much celebrity, but I'll tell you this cute little story. I'd been trying to get my kids to see the show. So, it's three hours [before the show], and they're at the age ranging from, at that time, 6, 8, and 12... I always want[ed] to get them because I want them to see what we do. Part of everything that you do, you want to share with your kids. So somehow, magic just worked: they didn't have school, we could grab them, they arrived. They had to take a red-eye. The show's at 10 a.m., and we had this kind of interesting PR person at that time, and he was very paranoid, and so, we put the kids in the front row. There's all these celebrities... we had some really big celebrities in the front row. And all of a sudden, the lights go down, the music starts, and the first model comes out, and Patrick [the publicist], gets on the walkie talkie and he's like "There are kids sleeping in the front row!" I'm like, "those are my kids, and if they want to sleep in the front row, with their legs spread, they should sleep in the front row." So, I don't think they saw the show (laughs).
On her most memorable backstage moment:
I have them every season... there's so many. For example, girls not showing up. Today, we had one of the models, Maria, who decided she's having a panic attack, and she didn't want to go. And she's look number four. And we're like "oh, my god!" This is where her casting director has to come in, actually if he's here. If you see her, if you watched the show, she's the one with red eyes because she literally couldn't breathe. We forget that these kids, they're kids, they are. They're 16, 17, 18, 19 years old; that's why they have those bodies (laughs)... Our shoes are the biggest nightmare. I always tell [people] clothes, they're never a problem. The shoes are always a problem for Hérve Léger. Last season, we had those boots, and it took us — we timed it — eight minutes just to put the shoes on. So, we had to hire 32 girls to do 32 looks because we didn't know how we were going to take them off.
On what she most looks forward to after showing at New York Fashion Week:
Tomorrow, we're having lunch with our elite clients, all the wonderful clients that we have at the store. I want to see the real people's faces. I see editors, I see a lot of fashion people. But when I see the woman that's really connecting with the brand, that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to having them come and take pictures and to show them how much I appreciate their business.
Advice for young people looking to get their start in fashion:
Just follow your dreams. Don't ever give up; just follow your dreams. Don't let anybody tell you that you're not good. And also, design your future. This is something that you can do. A majority of people just want to get a job out of college. Design your future. Decide who you want to work for and what job do you want, and you go after it. If you want to work for Gap, you actually send them a letter and you tell them "I'll do windows, bring you coffee, and floors. That's how dedicated I am to work for you." And they will hire. One thing that we see with the young generation right now is less of a passion... right now, everybody thinks they graduate from college, they're going to be a designer. Oh, no, no no.