Friday, 4 December 2009

Falic fantasy ends up in a French court room

Fashionista has just been reading, with a tinge of sadness, about the hard times that have led to this week's court appearance for Christian Lacroix, one of her favourite fantasy-designers, seeking approval from a French court for a restructuring plan that's predicted to put an end to that fashion house's haute couture and pret-a-porter clothing operations.

Once part of the French luxury group LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Christian Lacroix was bought by the Falic family, owners of Duty Free Americas, a retailer with stores at US airports and border crossings. Whether it was because of the commercial downturn, the difficulties some consumers faced in appreciating its finer points or the shift from LVMH to Falic symbolism, recent times have seen a decline in its fortunes and the business was placed under creditor protection in early June.

Fashionista is not a person who believes that design and profitability have to march hand-in-hand, noting with admiration that Lacroix has never ever been troubled by the inconvenience of a profit in the 22 years since its foundation. The design house's creditors are however made of less stern stuff and expect payment for their goods and services.

The plan approved by the court involves closing down Lacroix’s haute couture and pret-a-porter activities, though the licensing contracts for accessories and perfume will be kept up and running, and retaining just 11 of the current complement of 120 employees. Fashionista says, this looks like a bit of a skeleton plan but, if it keeps the brand ethos of Lacroix alive, it'll be worth it. Little sister Modeliste is more downbeat as she reaches for her calculator: 120 minus 11 = 109 ... which might just be the number of freshly disgruntled consumers who will not be wearing Lacroix next year.