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Given the context, a scaled-back presentation for couture is “most likely,” Topiol said. However, he noted couture remains “its most flexible business because we do most of it internally and we have a very dedicated group of clients.”
He characterized couture sales in 2008 as “flattish,” far better than its fortunes in rtw.
“It’s been challenging the last few months,” he said, describing wholesale clients who have canceled orders, paid late or not paid at all.
“The objective is to protect the assets and the employees of the company,” he said, describing a deterioration of its business across almost all regions. “The only market that has so far weathered the storm is Asia and Southeast Asia, where we don’t really have a presence.”
Part of Lacroix’s costly repositioning included signature boutiques in New York and Las Vegas that opened in 2007. The firm also operates three stores in France, and wholesales its clothing and accessories to about 150 retailers.
Hailing from the southern French city of Arles and drawing on the region’s rich gypsy and Provencal traditions, Lacroix burst on to the international fashion scene in the Eighties as the designer of Jean Patou and the creator of the pouf skirt. Bernard Arnault, chairman and ceo of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, set up a couture house just for him in 1987, electrifying the Paris high fashion scene and landing the designer on the cover of Time magazine.
However, after a revolving door of executives, a failed perfume attempt and what Lacroix lamented as lackluster development of his house, LVMH sold the company in 2005 to the Falics, best known for their Duty Free Americas chain. Falic Group had also purchased Hard Candy and Urban Decay from the French conglomerate.
Meanwhile, Lacroix, 58, has continued to expand his design oeuvre, with ongoing projects for opera costumes, movie theaters, set designs, signature hotels and even tramways for French cities.