Lubov Azria: Starting from the Bottom

A vision of her creative principles, Lubov Azria is strong, sophisticated and self-aware, clad in contemporary chicness.

“The idea of passion is what I’m interested in,” says Lubov.

And it’s that passion that drove a career at BCBGMAXAZRIA where she began as a design assistant in 1991 and now reigns as Chief Creative Officer. Since her arrival, BCBG has become an international fashion powerhouse with 570 retail stores worldwide. Under Lubov’s creative direction, the label has expanded from one line to four, not including forays into footwear, jewelry, handbags and everything in between. Closing out their 25th anniversary year, Lubov talked with Dress for Success about being your own inspiration, checking egos at the door and the constant evolution she embraced to become the creative leader of a global brand.

As CCO, Lubov holds the weight of almost 200 designers on her shoulders. In addition to her role at the office, she is also the better half of founder and designer Max Azria, with whom she has three young children and three step children. In order to keep her professional and personal life balanced, not to mention her sanity, she finds ways to be inspired every single day.

Growing up in Kiev, Ukraine, Lubov was raised modestly and remembers the feelings she got while staring in store windows—where fashion always sat behind glass and beyond her reach. As the woman who now spearheads the creation these objects of desire, Lubov vows to make all her garments affordable, contemporary and most importantly inclusive.

“I am designing for every woman. It changes over time, but at the end of the day the BCBG woman does it all and needs chic, easy options that match her dynamic lifestyle,” she says.

The concepts behind BCBG’s designs are also influenced by Lubov’s lifelong dedication to the arts. A former ballet dancer, she was lured into fashion after realizing her appreciation for costume design outweighed her dedication to the physical art. But Lubov doesn’t see the transition as that drastic.

“To this day, I don’t think I work in fashion. I think it’s more about art, creativity and working with an incredibly talented team. To me, fashion has a different connotation. We create everything here and it doesn’t have to be fashion, it can be anything,” says Lubov.

This open interpretation of art and design, along with an integrity of character that is true to her roots, is Lubov’s creative vision that keeps the BCBG brand modern and unique, but also extremely wearable.

Investing more than two decades with the company, Lubov has climbed from an entry level assistant position to the top, and has the wherewithal to prove it. She now navigates her career path just as she does the creative process. When looking for new hires, she says it’s those who can stow away pride, knowing there’s always going to be several drafts, and recognize each step (no matter how small) is necessary to reach final product.

“Along the way, I have learned that nothing is below you. Do windows, floors and bring coffee if you have to, make it happen,” Lubov says.

Armed with experience, Lubov believes that starting from the bottom was necessary to understand every aspect of the international brand she now spearheads. She constantly passes what she’s learned to her team explaining, “Compassion and leading by example can set you apart–you cannot lead without showing people how to lead.”

Her career is proof that if every step, even the minor ones, if taken with conviction, will always lead forward.

Overseeing multiple departments at a time, Lubov has adjusted herself to a macro view, but kept her eye for detail.  Incidentally this is why Max hired her in the first place. The two complement each other; Lubov is meticulous and he has always been a global thinker (think the first American designer to acquire a French fashion house under his label). As CCO, Lubov sees the collections go from concept to final sale, a process which totals around six to nine months. Despite her crazed schedule, she prides herself in fitting every garment and interacting directly with her customers as much as possible. She works off her M.O. that to reach every woman, she must be in touch with every woman.

Whether she’s looking back on her decades in the fashion industry or wrapping up one long day at the office, Lubov’s growth and longevity lies in her ability to embrace evolution and adapt to the inevitable changes that occur in any profession. She attributes BCBG’s constant expansion to investing in a team that helps spur new vision and supports the company’s forward motion.

“Everyone in our company is a member of our extended family. My peers, designers and incredibly creative team inspire me with their own personal style.”Surrounded by those who keep her burgeoning vision sharp, Lubov’s influence weaves like a solid thread through the company.  Each collection marks an evolution of the previous season. Her progression and a commitment to that lifestyle is evident in this year’s 25th anniversary collections, which were based on reinventing pieces from their archives. The garments were built on solid fundamentals and juxtapose the old with new; echoing the model that has earned Lubov her dream career and the contemporary edge to constantly bring it new life.

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