Christian Lacroix’s curtain call

In art, Collection, colour, culture, designer, dress, Fashion, News, Op Ed., Paris on December 5, 2009 at 2:19 am

Christian Lacroix struggled to make the dresses for Safra’s wedding, but oh no, not me. He meant Marielle Safra, bloodline of the late banking Tycoon, Edmond Safra.

I love Christian Lacroix. But of course, I’ve never been privileged enough to own his clothes. Not even via eBay. But this French couturier’s collection is resplendent and jubilant. I thoroughly enjoyed reading those fairytale write-ups in Vogue, and gazed, wantonly, at fashion spreads filled with colour, bows and embellishments. For someone like me, his line represented what fashion was – a cloud of dreams. And I suppose Mr. Lacroix felt the same way. But when reality strikes, and those clouds hit pavement, it’s worse than being diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Which must be what Mr. Lacroix is feeling right now.

We all knew, as did he, Christian Lacroix’s house faced stifling financial woes, but welcome to fashion’s reality. However, not all fashion houses face this brutal fatality; some are able to turn profits well beyond belief. Look at Chanel,  Michael Kors and Comme des Garcons as legendary modern examples. But he was never one of the lucky ones. So when those potential financial backers fell through, and the house will be what was, it comes as a some sudden shock to the masses.

Sheikh Hassan Ben Ali al-Naimi, nephew to the ruler of United Arab Emirate state Ajman, supposedly expressed interest. Then Bernard Krief Consulting, a French investment group, also stepped in setting high hopes of victory. But the Sheikh and the firm pulled out last-minute because they couldn’t get funding in time. In my opinion – that’s hogshit. Truth is, when given the real low down, neither of them was the slightest bit convinced about the House of Lacroix’s ability to turn a long run, if ever, financial profit. But now, its employees – Mr. Lacroix included – are at the will of bull-talking cash cows for the sake of its own salvation.

Over the years he’s tried everything. During his peak in the`90s, he created countless diffusion lines, fragrances and accessories. But there is something about his line that obviously just isn’t resonating, and now all that will be left is a licensing right.
Could it have been that he was too French? Too artistic? Too couture? The only thing I can think of was that the line started to become exactly what it always was, caught up in itself.

You know, as gorgeous as his collections are, a lot of his references date back to a time when over-the-top was well and good then, but doesn’t hold much place in our lives now. Sure, fashion recycles, but Mr. Lacroix was trying to live a buried dream. The time when the supermodel and shoulder pad both reigned, together. And during those times, LVMH relished in the brand’s potential, but when they foresaw the impending stagnancy, which was inevitable, they passed the house off for cheap to The Falic Group.

Mr. Lacroix wants to blame his current owners for his fall from grace, but you see Monsieur Lacroix, the Falic brothers are not responsible for your shortcomings. They, like you, are dreamers, but they wanted the prestige of having a high-fashion brand in their portfolio while making money, an abundance of it. You on the other hand, are an artist; more concerned with creating beautiful clothes for a certain tier of beautiful people (like Marielle Safra). You did, yes you did, dismiss the fact that you are a business. Art and commerce can work, but it’s artists’ who have an instinctive business acumen that survive. But if only Mr. Lacroix, if only…

It is true. Christian Lacroix’s fashion house was closed off from the rest of us, only accessible to people who frolic in almost unlimited wealth and luxury. Yet it was us, the commoners, who probably could have helped him, at least just a little while longer. But I don’t think Mr. Lacroix does H&M.

For what it’s worth Mr. Lacroix, you will certainly be missed by the rest of us.

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