Last month, Joyce Azria, daughter of 68-year-old Los Angeles-based designer Max Azria, introduced the millennial-targeted fashion and accessories label she founded, Avec les Filles (that’s French for “with the girls”), online and in 155 Macy’s stores.
The majority of women’s pieces are priced at less than $100, and the look of the line, according to Azria, who serves as Avec les Filles’ chief executive, is “timeless, easy and comfortable, with French flair — like a normal girl who has something about her that’s a little charming and special.”
The fashion-classics-with-a-twist include pleated skirts, pussy-bow blouses, little tweed blazers, tops and dresses with ruffled detailing or cold-shoulder sleeves, a leather moto jacket and a selection of jeans in collaboration with Earnest Sewn, one of Azria’s favorite labels. There are also accessories ranging from effortless mule sandals to diamond stud earrings. Handbags, hosiery, hats, scarves and belts will be introduced soon.
Although Azria’s label might call to mind her father’s line BCBG (which stands for the French phrase “bon chic, bon genre” or “good style, good attitude”), this venture is a solo effort for the younger Azria, whose life has long revolved around the family fashion business. In 1989, Azria’s father founded the BCBG Max Azria label, which made red carpet looks accessible by selling fashion-forward gowns for less than $500.
Times have changed. Now one of the many labels struggling to stay afloat, BCBG Max Azria Group shuttered 120 stores this year and filed for bankruptcy protection this month.
“BCBG was the brand that I grew up in,” said the 35-year-old Azria, who was born in Paris and moved to L.A. in 1984. “I worked in the stores when I was young. I would hang out in the sewing room, go with the guys to ship to [wholesalers]. I was always interested. And I’ve always been drawing and designing. My stepmom [Lubov, creative director for BCBG Max Azria and Herve Leger] kept me inspired about details and fit and taught me an amazing work ethic because she works about 12 hours a day. My dad was my go-to for practical business advice. He’s really an out-of-the-box thinker.”
Rather than going to college, Azria dived into the family business and worked her way up the corporate ladder.
“My dad was a very big advocate of me learning everything, and so I spent a lot of time in each department and learned how the total organization worked, and I think that’s an experience you can’t buy,” said Azria, who lives in Hancock Park with husband Ilan Trojanowski, a former jewelry designer and menswear buyer, and their five children. “I designed intimates and swim and, at 19 years old, debuted my first swim collection down the runway at New York Fashion Week. So it was very exciting growing up that way.”
In 2004, Azria struck out on her own with her first independent fashion business, the high-end women’s wear line Joyann, but it folded in 2007 when Azria became pregnant with her first son and chose to make family her focus. Two years later, Azria took the helm at BCBGeneration.
Azria said millennial-focused brands often sell items that top out at $100 or $150, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Staying on the pulse of the 18- to 35-year-old demographic is her priority for Avec les Filles. The brand has bimonthly deliveries of goods, and Azria said she is hoping the offerings appeal to a larger base.
Although the majority of the apparel is made in China, a limited-edition capsule of jackets is created in France, and Azria’s company is working to craft a range of dresses in Italy. Special garment tags call out the origins of these limited pieces.
Later this month, Azria’s line will launch on Revolve.com and at a pop-up shop in a space within her company’s new headquarters at 217 S. La Brea Ave.
“A modern girl today wants to wear expensive accessories,” Azria said. “She wants nice shoes and jewelry, a nice handbag and leather jacket. So we have $178 shoes, a $595 leather jacket and fine jewelry from $160 [for bar earrings] that even goes up to an $11,400 diamond tennis bracelet.”