Fashion Week: Max Azria Still Relevant, Neat and Tidy

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Last week we learned that Tunisian designer Max Azria, who got his start in Paris at a just barely pubescent fifteen, might be losing control of his empire--which is reportedly hundreds of millions in debt. You'd never know it from this show.

BCBG Max Azria kicked off Fashion Week yesterday with a massive turnout for its 2014 Spring Collection, the Theater's mobbish security on its last precarious nerve, herding people through what can only be described as the "bum rush" for standing room. If the enthusiastic crowd--all-business type bloggers who displayed a baffling lack of interest in free stuff--didn't give it that traditional NYFW feel, then Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia in the front row did.

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The Azrias' collection, described as "radical classic," is simplistic with about the same color palette as an iPhone 5. It's a testament to the cleanliness of black and white and decisive, chopping block cuts. But the rigid shaping is feminine, with mesh panels and some involved geometry going on in back and shoulder regions. A structured white crop top paired with something we want to call slacks almost looks like something you could wear to work but definitely couldn't. Conversely the extra-large lapel-ed tunic, a rare floral in this mostly pattern-less set, is somewhat flashy but begs to be paired down with a sweater.

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Models sauntered to a slow jam version of Daft Punk's Up All Night that sounded tailor-made to air on a Delilah syndication in your mom's FM hooked up sedan. Visible just backstage, an ominous man with chops pointed mechanically to direct the models with all passion of those who control air traffic--a job that seemed rather superfluous until one be-heeled woman stumbled and micro-tripped off the end of the runway circuit. It was a brief falter, barely perceptible, but endearing and kind of fitting.

This apparel is mercifully loose and functional, these are clothes made for sub-perfect people. As negotiations with a financial-services firm aim to secure BCBG storefronts in even more malls, we can't help but think making these artful designs available to the masses is a good thing, just as long as long as Max and Lubov stay fixed at the creative helm.

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