BCBG HITS THE PARTY CIRCUIT

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — The thought of having two women show up to the same event in the same dress makes designer Max Azria cringe.
So, to diminish the potential of duplication, Azria, president of AZ3/BCBG Max Azria, is adding more choices to the fray. He has launched a full line of eveningwear and bridesmaid’s dresses for spring.
Azria, who has offered a limited number of evening dresses in his line for a couple of years, said he was prompted to design a full collection after he received thousands of e-mails last year from customers who saw the same BCBG beaded, tulle dress on three celebrities attending different events.
Heather Graham wore the gown to the premiere of “Bowfinger,” while Christina Ricci wore it to the premiere of “Desert Blue” and Kelli Williams chose it for the Screen Actors Guild awards, according to a BCBG spokeswoman.
“We are doing a lot of styles in this new division because we don’t want three of the same dress at a party,” Azria said. “We are making a limited quantity of each style but a large variety of dresses.”
The line will consist of 12 to 15 new offerings a month and range in price at wholesale from $90 for a matte jersey cut-away back to $280 for an embellished, beaded gown.
BCBG is targeting stores such as Nordstrom, Macy’s West and Bloomingdale’s, Azria said. He is projecting a first-year volume of $25 million.
The type of woman Azria is targeting is “very confident, sophisticated, glamorous and sexy — but not too sexy.”
The line also will be carried in all 124 of BCBG’s domestic and international stores.
Although the company will miss the holidays with the new line, it will supply stores with dresses in February, just in time for the next big eveningwear season — prom.
Azria noted that he will offer some dresses for holiday, but the full line won’t hit until early next year.
“It is extremely important to launch a full line, especially in L.A., with so many red-carpet awards shows,” said Azria. “That’s the reason why we got into the classification in the first place.”
Paula Schneider, BCBG’s president of sales, noted that one look at fashion at this year’s Oscar’s revealed that the black dress is not a standard anymore.
“The combination of color and embroidery makes a dress more interesting,” she said.
The line is divided into three categories, including matte jersey knits with sexy cutaway backs and deep V-necks; beaded tulles; and silk and satin gowns, which double for bridesmaid’s dresses and eveningwear.
Among the items are nude stretch tulle gowns with multicolored paillettes, pearl blush tulle illusion gowns and matte jersey cross-front gowns with fishtails.
“We are also targeting the BCBG woman who wants her bridal party to be designer but affordable,” Schneider. “That’s a strong selling point.”
Schneider noted that BCBG is just starting to develop the bridesmaid classification.
“We get tremendous reorders at our own stores now for bridal and we want to expand on that,” she added.

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