Part of the fun of watching the Hervé Léger runway show in New York every season is observing how designers Max and Lubov Azria come up with so many different variations of the basic bandage dress. Since acquiring the French brand, the Azrias have displayed their inventiveness in creating new, eye-catching ways to accent a dress that hugs the body like a sausage casing.
"It really is the same dress over and over again. But they have found ways to add something new to it," celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch told CultureMap before the Azrias unveiled their fall Hervé Léger collection before a packed audience at Lincoln Center.
Bloch recalled that he and deceased designer L'Wren Scott were the first to showcase the brand in Hollywood back when designer Hervé Leroux first introduced the bandage dress in the mid-'80s.
"They fit like a glove, and they look beautiful on most women. I love them," said Jaine Jackson, who traveled from Dallas to attend her first fashion show.
"[L'Wren] would get them for Cindy Crawford, and I would get them for Fran Drescher. Fran wore them a lot. They were the first two celebrities wearing Hervé in LA. We did a famous shot of Fran where she wore this white one, and we did all the flowers in her hair. That was an amazing one," Bloch said.
Now the dresses are so popular that they have a tag that's like a tail on the inside of the back side of the dress, so that it has to be cut off prior to wearing it. Before that, customers would buy the dress, wear it to a club and then return it the next day. "If you take the tag off, you keep the dress," Bloch said.
For fall, the Azrias have added padded shoulders and see-through inserts in some looks, while others are heavily beaded in colorful patterns inspired by the Antoni Gaudi's spectacular Basilica De La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Textured jacquards are inspired by the cathedral's stained-glass windows and celestial ceilings; heavily studded beadwork evokes soaring arches and warm sunrays.
The duo added lamb boleros and beaded bomber jackets to accent the look, but the dresses are just as form-fitting as ever.
Backstage before the show began, Max Azria noted that the collection consists almost exclusively of short dresses. (Only one look features slacks.) "I love the colors and the prints," he said. "We respect the feeling of this woman; she's very sexy but is proud of what she has achieved."
His company, which also includes BCBGMaxAzria and BCBG Generation, has had some financial difficulties, but a recent $135 million cash infusion by investors has put it on firmer financial footing. Azria dismissed concerns, saying the company plans to go "higher and higher."
He certainly seems to have a loyal following for Hervé Léger, as many guests in the audience wore variations of the bandage dress.
"They fit like a glove, and they look beautiful on most women. I love them," said Jaine Jackson, who traveled from Dallas to attend her first fashion show and wore a low-cut, fringed bandage dress that accented her curves.