This April marks a quarter-century sinceMax and Lubov Azria started their SoCal-based label. “That first show was my favorite,” recalls Lubov backstage. “We were based in California, but showing in New York . . . nobody knew what to do with us!” For the last 25 years, they found their place by bestowing a breezy, summery disposition on the often snow-clad city during Fashion Week and offering clothing that fell in step with the idea of an uncomplicated, West Coast femininity. But it seems as though the business-oriented metropolis has also had an impact on the couple, and this season felt more like a departure from their usual loose, easy starting point than the retrospective Lubov attested it to be.
Their established luxe-bohemian trademark was still in evidence, but revisited with a hefty dose of city-infused toughness: Capestyle moto jackets and dresses in gray business-suiting fabric cut to resemble caftans and fur-covered handbags that doubled as hand warmers. Although they’ve often found room within their Californian vision for graphic, modern cuts and men’s-inspired shirting, this collection, with it’s straight-up-straight-down, sharper, longer length, felt stricter and boxier than before. The length, however, might loosely owe its beginnings to their inaugural show with it’s whimsical calf-length bias-cut slips back in the grunge-fuelled era of ’96, albeit rendered in an entirely different way. Lubov sums it up thus: “There’s all the staples we’re known for: shirt dresses, T-shirt dresses, different hems, and colorblocking, but done in a way that’s right for this season. Nothing is just thrown in there.”