Au revoir Christian !

This week, a French court approved a restructuring plan for bankrupt label Christian Lacroix that will reduce the house to a licensing operation. Only about a dozen of the roughly 100 employees will keep their jobs. The label’s problems culminated with the parties that expressed interest in buying the label but failed to produce financial guarantees in time to rescue it.

Experts say Lacroix focused too much on haute couture collections. Successful labels use couture nowadays as marketing efforts. No label sells enough couture clothes to justify it. Lacroix was notoriously insistent on maintaining its high-end approach to clothing. Under LVMH’s ownership, Lacroix made lower-priced Canal and Jeans lines. When the Falic group bought the label in 2005, they were quick to do away with those. Lacroix was happy because he didn’t want to be bothered with the more affordable things. But still, where were the Lacroix sunglasses? Perfumes? “It” bags? Sales of items like those account for the bulk of profits for luxury labels. Lacroix’s C’est La Vie fragrance never even took off. Fragrances are powerful profit drivers, but we shouldn’t forget fashion’s other highly potent force: divas. Look at Lady Gaga. She’s in Vogue, she was the first non-model to wear Alexander McQueen’s spring 2010 Alien shoes, and she was the highlight of New York Fashion Week and plenty of other things.
There should have been a diva out there for Lacroix to dress.

For me Lacroix was the beginning of my career as a journalist in fashion. I still remember my first fashionshow ever, Christian Haute Couture spring 1989 in hotel Intercontinental in Paris. It was breathtaking. Powerful, colorful, and very French joie de vivre. But times changed, as did women, fashion and the business.

So for old times sake: some highlights of past collections.

Jetty Ferwerda