Tuesday, August 25, 2009

House of Lacroix

How is it that a designer label and company that's been around for more than 20 years, so synonymous with luxury, beauty, gorgeously stylised couture, has never made a profit?

A few months back, the House of Lacroix sought protection from its creditors, and it was revealed that it has NEVER made a profit. I find that totally bizarre. You mean, people weren't buying Lacroix?

Spring 2009 Couture

Fantastical, over-the-top eye-candy that never really made sense to wear outside of a cleverly styled photoshoot in the pages of high fashion magazines. Pouf, pageantry, brocade skirts, satin sheaths, and bejeweled accents were lovely to gush at. But not exactly the staple thing everyone would wear to even the most glamourous events.

Spring 2009 Couture

Perhaps that's what did the House in. That a lot of it were pieces of art. And not exactly wearable art. People oohed and ahhed, drooled over and dreamt about his clothes, but very seldom actually needed to buy and wear one. Now THAT'S bad news.

Spring 2008 Ready-To-Wear

Spring 2008 Couture

Fact is, this is Christian Lacroix . Born in 1951, in Arles, France, the man himself stumbled into fashion from an education in art history and museum studies. His lifelong ambition was always to be a curator. He only ever came into fashion from doing a dissertation on the history of dress in 18th-century French paintings, and had his first job at Hermes.

Season after season, he was key to making popular and raved-about collections. And in 1987, he was awarded Most Influential Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers in America.

Fall 2007 Couture

But really, what made Lacroix's stuff popular was the fact that it was just so lovely to look at. He is also the man who started the tradition of ending the show with a super-statement wedding dress. Except his were grandiose bridal ensembles that seemed plucked right from stage and theatre, and plonked onto the runway. Out of place it may have looked, but boy were they pieces to look at...

Spring and Fall 2007 Couture

The latest econnomic crunch was I guess the final straw on the poor House of Lacroix camel's back. It's owner, the Falic Group, had bought over the label in 2005, and by then it was riddled with debt. The Falic Group apparently had big plans to revamp the House.

Fall 2009 Couture

So now, in complete financial shambles, the House of Lacroix has laid off all but 12 employees of its 149, and these were mostly loyal seamstresses who managed to bang out the latest season on a serious shoestring budget. Christian Lacroix's Fall 2009 Couture and Ready-To-Wear were, inextricably, more sombre and subdued, far from its tradition of glamourous whimsy and statement-making pieces of art.

I personally think this could be the best thing that could happen to the House of Lacroix yet. A collection that is far less ostentatious, so much more accessible, and yet still racked with the finesse and sumptuous artistry Christian Lacroix has always afforded.

Fall 2009 Ready-To-Wear

Maybe that explains the fact that Christian Lacroix is the most highly respected costumier. He simply makes costumes. In fact, an exhibition of his costume work was doing the museum rounds on its Singapore leg, when it was announced that the House of Lacroix had gone bust. His work for operas and ballets are simply mind-blowing. I suppose that's where he really shines. And that's because he is licensed to go "all the way", and truly indulge, for the stage.

Back to the runway, Fall 2009. The House that is constantly raved about, featured in lavish photoshoots, and so famed for its out-of-this-world prettiness, and has never made a profit, presented its latest collection to a show jam-packed with supporters. Supporters that clapped loud and cheered hard, but too few would have ever really actually worn (hence, bought) his pieces of art. Let's hope all this will change once this latest collection hits the stores. That people will stop ogling and start wearing Christian Lacroix.

More of Lacroix's gorgeousness here.

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