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Who’s to Blame for Screwing Up Halston?

Sarah Jessica Parker and Harvey Weinstein.

Last month it felt like all the glamour and name-iness of the Halston management just fled the label like air out of a popped balloon. And the only warning we got was a throwaway line buried in a Vogue story, which everyone reads so thoroughly anyway, about how Sarah Jessica Parker's relationship with the label had come to a close. Parker entered — and exited — the label the same way many folks had. As soon as one board member left, another came on, and it wouldn't be long before any of them were out. Rachel Zoe signed on to the board with Harvey Weinstein, who owned a 15 percent stake in the label while venture capital firm Hilco Capital owned the rest. Zoe exited quickly after joining in 2007. Marco Zanini was hired and fired, replaced by Marios Schwab, who was then fired, too. Bonnie Takhar, chief executive officer of Jimmy Choo before joining Halston, was fired last year. This year, Parker opted to exit her contract early. Now, with that entire board out, BCBG's president has taken over. So what went wrong with the people Weinstein assembled, who should have known what they were doing?

Friends of Parker tell the Observer it wasn't her fault.

Although none of the former Halston principals would speak about their departure, citing nondisclosure agreements, a friend of Ms. Parker’s insisted that the actress had nothing to be ashamed of. “Halston was not a healthy company when Sarah Jessica came in,” the source told The Observer. “It was a revolving door for staff. But she worked very hard and sales were up 40 percent by the time she left. I don’t know how [the company] managed their books or what they leveraged, but now they say they need to raise cash and so are turning to licensing to do so.”

But other sources close to other parties say it was Parker's fault.

A source close to Hilco told The Observer that Ms. Parker “had genuine passion for her work, but you can’t do both things — be a president of a clothing company and be an actress. She needed to focus on it. She didn’t have the management skills or the understanding of keeping price-points where they needed to be.”

The Parker and Hilco sources dispute whether Parker's designs brought in $25 million in wholesale revenue. The Hilco person claims that a big problem was that Parker's contract — $13 million plus an equity stake — was too expensive, and the team didn't have the foresight to license out shoes and bags. And yet veteran fashion industry publicist Paul Wilmot offers a different perspective on the whole thing. He blames the dudes in finance who don't know jack about fashion.

“The hiring of Sarah Jessica Parker was a move to amp up awareness, but when bankers run fashion companies it always ends up in disaster,” Mr. Wilmot said. “They talk to their wives, who shop at Bergdorf’s, and think they know how to run a fashion company. It’s like, just because you go to a restaurant doesn’t mean you should open one.”

The same principle isn't true for everything in this world, though. Everyone knows that just because you can type does mean you should start a blog.

Halston’s Bad Fit: Committing Harvey-Carrie! [NYO]

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Cut® are registered trademarks of New York Media LLC.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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