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May 28, 2009 2:13 PM

Business, Fashion

Lament for Lacroix

Fashion has such a giddy air of wealth and excess around it that it's difficult to fathom when seemingly high-riding designer companies falter.I'll never forget the disbelief in the WWD newsroom in New York back in 1998 when the paper...

Fashion has such a giddy air of wealth and excess around it that it's difficult to fathom when seemingly high-riding designer companies falter.

I'll never forget the disbelief in the WWD newsroom in New York back in 1998 when the paper got word that Chanel Inc. was dissolving its partnership with Isaac Mizrahi and shuttering the business.

It was déjà vu when I walked into Christian Lacroix's headquarters on the Rue de Monceau in Paris on Wednesday to learn the company had filed a petition seeking court protection from its creditors. It's always disheartening to see a wildly creative designer -- at Lacroix, even the wires coming out of the receptionist's computer are festively decorated with wooden beads and glittering rings -- run up against a wall.

Even if Lacroix's last ready-to-wear show, for fall 2009, was held in a gritty parking garage with broken mirrors the only set decor, any sense of paucity vanished when the models -- the epitome of Parisian elegance -- appeared in their pert and glossy chignons, red lips and the designer's chic and impossibly soigné clothes.

Obviously, the picture behind the scenes isn't so pretty, with the designer himself believed to be among the parties owed substantial sums of money, and the much-acclaimed fall-winter runway collection at risk of never being produced.

The richness of the fashion industry comes from having a diverse range of voices. It's hard to imagine couture week in July -- already shrunk to only a few days -- without one as singular and original as Lacroix's.

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View Christian Lacroix's Most Recent Collections:
Christian Lacroix RTW Fall 2009 >>
Christian Lacroix Couture Spring 2009 >>
Christian Lacroix Pre-Fall 2009 >>
Christian Lacroix RTW Spring 2009 >>
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