Joyce Azria knows a lot about fashion–and how the way we dress shapes our identities and personalities. Fashion doesn’t have to be shallow or superficial, but can be an artistic, outward expression of how we feel–and Azria encourages that.
She grew up in the fashion world, the daughter of Los Angeles-based designer Max Azria. Now, the Orthodox Jewish designer is introducing a new fashion line targeting millennial women. It’s called Avec les Filles (that’s French for “with the girls”), which can be found online and in 155 Macy’s stores.
This is the second time Azria is branching out on her own, as opposed to working with her family company, BCBG–in 1989, Azria’s father founded the BCBG Max Azria label. In 2004, she founded women’s wear line Joyann, but closed it in 2007 when she became pregnant with her first child. What makes this new line so unique is the fact that it caters to everyone–it starts at $18 and ranges all the way up to $595. Azria did this in order to appeal to women who don’t want to spend a fortune, but seek more high-design options (especially when you need a good outfit for a job interview!).
In Allure, she elaborated on this sentiment, saying, “I love Sandro, I love Maje, I love Givenchy, but they are so high-end that I just thought, ‘I want a brand that brings me in at 18 bucks and is a little easier to digest.’ What I strive to do with Avec les Filles is allow her to indulge in an experience that’s designer-led and authentic, but still fun and playful.”
I was thrilled to be able to speak with Azria about her new line, balancing motherhood and work, and how being Orthodox inspires her design:
Your new fashion line, Avec les Filles, focuses on millennial fashion. What was one challenge about building this line? What was one of the most rewarding parts?
The biggest challenge was the most rewarding part. The hustle and hard work! I never stopped pouring my heart into the product, people and vision. Although I had never felt so much pressure, this was also the place where I saw the most personal and professional growth. At all times, I always felt connected to myself, to God, to the process and to the mantra, “eEerything is always for the greater good.”
How do you balance being a mother and being a fashion designer at the helm of a business?
As Nike says so eloquently, you just do it. If you compare yourself to others, then it’s a hard journey. I compare myself to my own potential_and to people who do more than me.
So as far as I am concerned, I do a lot but I could always do more.
My personal trick #1 is just do what you’re doing when you are doing it. When I’m at home, the phone is tucked away and I am a wife and a mother. When I am at work, I am CEO lady.
The personal trick #2 is the Sabbath. I am constantly “on” and creating things. That break in the week when I am not working, nor am I in action, is my personal balance. I refuel for the week ahead.
Who are your ultimate fashion idols? Have they changed over the years?
I love women of sophistication and modernity; they never change, their image is timeless. Jane Birkin always.
How do you want to change the way women see and wear fashion?
Fashion is an expression of your identity to the world. I want to help women to find who they are in everything I make.
What TV show have you binge watched?
Oh the ways of Orthodox Jewry have pulled me out of the TV scene—it’s a big game changer! In my young rebel days it was (eeeek) Beverly Hills 90210!
Who are you, in one sentence?
Biggest pet peeve:
Bad words. I think it lowers people.
If you were a Jewish food, what would you be?
Cholent, because I’m a lot of things mixed together.
How does being Orthodox Jewish influence your own fashion style, and how you design for others?
It allows me to be a canvas and not reflect my personal taste within my storytelling, ultimately allowing me to reach deep into the DNA of the brand I am creating.
In third grade, my teacher told me that you can only run for President if you were born in the US, and it was crushing as I was born in France! That’s when I decided I would be a mom one day. Then I could have tons of children and influence the world from a different angle.