Yesterday, the news came in that I and many others dreaded. The French courts ruled in favor of the Falic Group, the owners of Christian Lacroix, allowing them to disassemble the company and reduce it to a licensing operation. The ready to wear and couture are no longer. The collections which Lacroix became synonymous and celebrated for are at this moment finished. His white knight Sheik Ajman did not meet the deadline of December 1, 2009 to show valid proof that his $100 million offer to buy the company was in fact real. This failure on the Sheik's part closed the doors of hope and waiting that Lacroix has endured these last several months. Delays and postponements added to the drama of this final decision.
The last delay which occured a month ago was the most distressing. Its reason was that the Sheikh,who offered to rescue the company, pay off its debts and give Lacroix an equity stake in the new company, centered on the embarassing fact that Ajman was unable to substantiate to the ruling judge that he, in fact, had the actual funds. His word and pledge was not sufficient. The courts wanted to see actual proof and thus postponed the hearings until yesterday. I had a very bad feeling when I read that news.The galling effect of this disclosure showed on the face of Mr. Lacroix at that time. He appeared to age overnight. His face became loose, drawn and his eyes looked exhausted,haunted and sad. The light, amused expression he wears was utterly changed.
Christian is angered and now fighting all forces alone, though his partner, Mr. Topiol, is doing battle alongside. Topiol appears to have plenty of fight left in him, though Lacroix seems spent.
I know from experience that there is nothing more dispiriting than to lose control of ones company. When the ownership passes from your hands to a financial backer, or worse the courts, you have no power. Standing to the side and watching all that you've created is taken away and you become the mute witness. Your staff is no longer yours, the keys are no longer yours, the decisions are no longer yours. Your voice is no longer heard.
The Falic Group is big business. Heart and soul has nothing to do with the equation. They do what they do and sentiment plays little or no part in the equation. To sell a Designer's name is the absolute no-no. That's the lesson we learned from Halston and still people continue to make that fatal mistake. Lacroix could have been wiser, this lapse of judgment seems so out of character. Now the dice have been tossed and the best course of action is to walk away. Walking away is the hardest , most painful thing to do, but the best step. Regroup, gain a bit of distance and think with a clear head. Lacroix is an immensely talented man with many opportunities for his creativity. His reputation and legacy precede him. His pride and ego are surely bruised, but nothing that time and a certain remove can't heal.
He is a man of boundless energy and unflagging optimism. All in the end will be well. Life has a trajectory that we have little control over. The best we can do is to try to make wise choices. When we stumble, it's wisest to get up. Laying on the ground only invites others to step on and over us. I believe he will rise and stand taller than before. I know that from experience to. Letting go is the greatest gift we can give ourselves, especially at times when we feel that the hanging on is our only chance to continue existing. That road to disappointment has an exit ramp. The direction is rarely mapped out but it almost always leads to a place better than where we were headed or the place from whence we came. For now I hope that he allows himself to feel the wind on his face and the journey for now is just that. The destination will reveal itself in due time. Those of us who respect and regard this great man are the markers on the road that can supply comfort.
On the Street…Le Marais, Paris
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