The Economy Threatens Couture Week

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Christian Lacroix couture, spring 2009. Photo: Imaxtree

In just five and a half weeks, the couture shows — the ultimate in all things fabulous — begin in Paris. Last season, the economy, despite its crappy state, had basically no effect on the couture shows. Jordanian princesses showed up and shopped as usual; designers held nothing back aesthetically for propriety's sake. But this season, the economy threatens to strip one of the most fabulous shows from the schedule. The fate of Christian Lacroix's fall 2009 couture show remains unknown after the label filed for court protection from creditors yesterday. The label's CEO, Nicolas Topiol, says the couture collection is in progress but will probably be shown in a scaled-back presentation. Oh, that stings. Couture isn't supposed to be scaled-back. That's like buying the cheap peacocks that don't have any tail feathers for lawn ornamentation.

Lacroix hasn't been doing well in the downturn, since they've been focused on making the brand as high-end as possible. While houses like Halston are introducing lower-priced lines, and more and more designers clamor for H&M collections, Lacroix has terminated its lower-end lines, Bazar and Christian Lacroix Jeans. Topiol tells WWD that sales for fall fell 35 percent. Retailers did not go wild for the $6,700 dresses and $4,500 trench coats from Lacroix's spring collection, either.

Lacroix has some buoys in place to weather the financial crisis, including job cuts and licensing deals to introduce new products next year. The company is also searching for investors and could file Chapter 11 for further protection. However, while we are now freaking out about couture week, Topiol remains calm. He notes the label's "very dedicated group of couture clients." Thank goodness for those disgustingly wealthy people. Hopefully their blatant, shameless wealth flaunting will bring us another impossibly fabulous couture week in July.

Lacroix Seeks Court Protection From Creditors [WWD]