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|Photo by Slobodan Dimitrov|
Max Azria is best known for his international design house, BCBG Max Azria. For the first time, Azria is immersing himself in the theater, co-producing and costuming the musical The Ten Commandments. He wanted this American remake of Les Dix Commandments — a Paris hit in 2000 — to open in L.A., the city he considers his home since leaving France in 1989 and Tunisia, where he was born, before that.
“Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world,” he proclaims in his office at BCBG’s Vernon headquarters. “I know it’s a controversial decision,” he says, speaking in a high-pitched French accent. “People in New York are very skeptical about what will happen. That we will see.”
He says he loves New York, but only for a few days at a time, then he yearns for the sunshine. He settled here, he says, because the climate was so close to that of Tunisia. Romanticism aside, opening here instead of in New York also meant he wouldn’t have to leave his business in the hands of others for a couple of months.
Azria speaks animatedly on two themes — the women in his life (his wife in particular) who have inspired his business, and the musical’s epic context of three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) crashing into one another. It raises looming questions of how we’re to survive another century, he explains.
The French version was too “classical,” he says, explaining the massive revisions. The American remake will be more “rock & roll.”
His handlers try to get him to change into a trendy black shirt and silk jacket for the photo shoot. He politely brushes them off, preferring to wear slacks and a T-shirt. As his handlers keep nudging, Azria grows increasingly defiant. His T-shirt reads, “Relax, I’m a professional.”