Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lacroix's Long Road to Disappointment

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.


chris in sf said...

sad indeed!
his designs, his sense of aesthetics so uniquely FRENCH. his creations will be missed.
stock up on any Lacroix out there.. they just became collectibles!

Anonymous said...

those who can't do, blog.
find a reason to celebrate, don't be a Debbie Downer. There's a lot wrong in the fashion world, but what is perfect?... Seriously, fluff, you are way to good a writer to point out what's wrong ALL THE TIME.

Fluff Chance said...

Dear Anonymous,
I hear you, but am a little confused. I "do" and I blog, so it's not one or the other for me. I thought there was some hope in this piece and not just a downer. I appreciate what you have to say and will stay aware of the delicate balance. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Amber said...

Fluff Chance this was an achingly beautiful post. I am devastated that Lacroix has lost his house and is reduced to...basically nothing. What do you think this says about Haute Couture? Do you feel as if it is a dying industry?

Unknown said...

I am not surprised at this as it seems all the great houses built on name and reputation have becoe marketing symbols even when and if they continue to design couture or ready to wear lines - the licensing seems to outshine the original intent of the line anyway. With that said I C.L. should see it as an opportunity to reinvent himself. Yes, he lost his name, but he didn't lose his talent. Let's just hope his drive and ambition recover so that we can be privy to what new and wonderful things he can make for our visual pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Though this a great sense of Loss, here, there is also a real opportunity for Lacroix to be hired to revamp some existing house. Look at what he did for Pucci. Surely he can rebound and maybe start small like Alaia. The era of the mega brand should be over. I cannot for the life me remember the last time I went to a Gucci, Prada or Dolce store. They have lost their mojo. Valentino, Ferre, Vionnet, Rochas all need attention before they too disappear. Could he fill the shoes at one of thes historic houses? CL take some time away from the business. Find your love for creating beautiful fashion again (if you have not lost the desire) and come roaring back STRONGER than ever.

Anonymous said...

I see a new label emerging - CLX. He should do a behemoth book like Tom Ford did when left Gucci. Celebrate his accomplishmentand close the Book (chapter) on that part of his life. He is still the very talent this industry needs and cannot lose.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame Fluffy, but not entirely unexpected. Poor cat could never find the right backer at the right time. He's been struggling for years. I'm hoping he can get something together and comeback, but that's easier said than done.

I always loved Lacroix. He was a unique voice in fashion, uniquely French. Shame.


Anonymous said...

it's sad but I think we often forget that it's also the designer who sold his own name in the first place. Not only that, poor management, lack of structure and goal can make any big or small house fall apart. I know a girl who worked at Lacroix. She said that they rarely saw Christian and he only came maybe once or twice a week only if they were couture related. He didn't even design nor care much about his own ready-to-wear line. He just wanted to create things that people don't want to wear. 17 years never made a profit and that was why LVMH sold it back in 2005.

Anonymous said...

17 years, no profit
17 years, no profit
17 years, no profit

Since when is Couture a charity?

Anonymous said...

Well, couture is not a charity, it's often just a publicity and personal ego. In Lacroix's case, it's more of the latter....

AS said...

Nice piece Fluff!!
Brooksie, I disagree with you. CLX should not close the Chapter with a book only, but with an exhibition, something live, then the book lol !
His creations are staging material. Maybe it could be a movie, in a Chanel way more than T. Ford. Maybe a retrospective opening during Couture week and webcast worldwide. Why a major museum, like the MET, does not let him curate like in Shanghai or Arles? So many things could be done.
Regarding the comments such as "17 yrs no profits" I find that lame. The past 2 yrs showed us that not only a small company could loose money, but big institutions could loose big money, need State intervention and shut the whole system... There are many push paper employees in big corporation who do nothing and make money. So I find it a bit below the belt to say that he was not able to generate profit. Where were the highly paid managers from prestigious Schools to bring a solution in these 17 years? They probably had a confident "all or nothing" attitude / solution, which was probably very theoretical. Mr. Lacroix has certainly made mistakes but he tried, he really tried, he played by the rule and got a fragrance out. I hope he will learn and he knows that he must rely on himself. He needs to use his creativity to move on. White knights are rare nowadays, he has to come with the solution and when timing is right he will raise again. I hope he had found his Pierre Berge or his Giancarlo. The Lacroix company owes Mr. Lacroix money. Everybody in business would laugh at this for getting his personal funds involved, but he is a caring, honest and emotional person, he tried.
Maybe CLX Future is in curating or dress making or movie making or something web-based. I trust his range of talent to be able to re-invent himself, I am just hoping that he will be able to stand after this blow.


Anonymous said...

AS...I think you got the wrong person. I didn't say he should write a book and be done. I think he should come back actually, but he needs a new approach to the buz thing. Fluff's post went in to far more detail than Cathy's.


AS said...

Brooksie, I am so sorry. It is actually the "anonymous" person before you who mentioned the Book thing. I can be airy, so I am sorry.
I am with you regarding CL's future. Might it be Couture or not, I hope it will raise again.
Regarding the post, Fluff is actually no fluff at all! He has an interesting voice. Cathy's piece was probably more neutral, Fluff takes more position. To a certain degree he can relate to what is going on with Mr. Lacroix.

Anonymous said...

What a disappointing post from you Fluff, your post had little content and lots of sentimental stuff, rather had you analysed what had brought the company down in a more dispassionate way, it would have made for a way better post!

Anonymous said...

AS..I thought you didn't mean me cuz I'm crushed about this Lacroix thing tbh. I was really hoping he's pull thru. Fluff's been covering it for awhile now since the season Lacroix did the "plain" show and even before Fluff came out the closet (LOL) so I knew he would take a stand. It's quite devestating to see so many folks shutting down since 07 or so. Lacroix is just the latest in a long line.

I'm hoping that he can do something like Alaia and a few more have done (think Herve Leroux/Rick Owens/etc)...small, artisinal, and not dependent on the big media/money men to keep afloat. Here's to hoping!


Parisbreakfasts said...

In 2008 Lacroix had a fabulous exhibit at the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs
And there are two utterly divine books available on his personal sketchbooks.
The Diary of a Collection

Pieces of a Pattern: Lacroix by Lacroix
Thank you Fluff for this excellent post. No doubt the reasons for his present demise are convoluted...
But may Lacroix's future fill us with even more joy than his past accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

Couture is not a charity, brilliantly put, Anonymous. And it doesn't have to be. Lanvin is the best example of keeping a couture house's heritage, but with a business model that actually works.

On the topic of Tom Ford, Fluff, I'm dying to hear your thoughts on his upcoming new movie. Pleeeeeeeease post a review when you see it!

Keith said...

Hey there. How are you today? I hope you've been enjoying the weekend. I really like your blog. Take care. Have a great week ahead. Cheers!

Pooks said...

As much as I admire Lacroix for his imagination, talent, and contribution to fashion, I must say that while it is a shame he's lost his name, he did have 17 years of freedom to do whatever he wanted without any financial obligations. This is more than a lot of other talented artist and designers (well known and anonymous) can expect in life. He should be grateful that he was given basically carte blanche for years to do whatever he wanted. This constant boo-hooing and whining in the media since the announcement is a bit melodramatic. Again, 17 years of artistic freedom, support, and adoration without having to turn a profit. Can any of you say that you've been this lucky?