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Vive Lacroix

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Lacroix's haute couture show in Paris last July.  

Afterward, Lacroix went to the outskirts of Paris to watch Givenchy. This, combined with the presence of Yves Carcelle, a member of LVMH’s executive committee, at his show, started a flurry of rumors that LVMH would save the day, that Arnault would be too heartbroken by the potential end of the house to let such a thing happen. A day before his show, Lacroix lunched with Jean-Jacques Picart, his original business partner. And in between fittings he got a letter from another friend at LVMH. “This is such a shame,” the note read, “we are with you.” And then, the next day, lunch with Carcelle. “It is like being at my own funeral!” he says, laughing.

The deadline for bids on the company was July 28, and Lacroix’s friend David de Rothschild was helping him approach various European investors. Several offers have been made; there was one from a client whom Lacroix declines to name, saying only, “I prefer to keep her as a customer.” Later it is revealed that her father is president of Uzbekistan. A French turnaround company called Bernard Krief Consultants expressed interest, but that company’s resources were deemed insufficient by the courts. Currently, the Italian Borletti group, which has a stake in the Printemps department store, has an offer pending, which would cut more than half the staff, and the Falics have put forth a restructuring plan that calls for a 90 percent reduction in staff, making the label into a licensing house. The remaining 10 percent would be largely administrative—the workroom would not be saved. In this scenario, the Falics would continue ownership of Lacroix’s name, which they could use in an attempt to recoup their debt.

Right now, Lacroix is in Arles, close to his roots, catching his breath, waiting to hear from the court that is considering the offers—as his company has filed for court protection from its creditors, it is ultimately the courts who will decide its fate.

He is beside the River Rhone, near the grocery owned by his grandparents, near the fields that he walked through to school: They were filled with rubble from World War II then—now they are clear and the avenues are full of tourists from Japan.

His future is uncertain. He does have his own company, XCLX, through which he designs costumes for theater, opera, and ballet—work he describes as incredibly fulfilling but not helpful with bills. He also designs for TGV trains and movie theaters and hotel rooms and luxury condominiums in Dubai, but, of course, that market is shaky right now, too.

Mostly, he hopes he can keep his name. “I will be like Prince!” he says, and laughs sadly. “The designer formerly known as!”


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