The economy makes the idea of haute couture seem silly. Who can afford custom-made dresses that carry a price tag rivaling most luxury cars?
The truth is that even before the recession, the number of houses that showed haute couture (a term actually protected by the French government) was dwindling as the collections became more about marketing, artistry, and tradition than making money.
It seems that one of the few remaining couture houses is about to bite the dust, and the designer behind the eponymous line is pointing the finger squarely at the Miami-based family who controls the company that bears his name.
The Falic Group, owned by three brothers (Simon, Leon, and Jerome), and operated out of Miami, specialize in duty free stores. The firm purchased the Christian Lacroix brand from luxury conglomerate LVHM in 2005 with the hopes of turning it into one of the most prestigious brands on the market.
Apparently, they didn't seem to mind that Lacroix, which also produces ready-to-wear lines, accessories, and perfumes, has never turned a profit in its 20-year history. The brand filed for bankruptcy protection in May, and unless some last-minute financial savior swoops in, its couture presentation this week might be its last.
"Not being from the couture-and-luxury field..., [the Falics] were not prepared for the long-term investment," said Lacroix to Hamish Bowles. "They thought that in two seasons they would get their money back."
He claims he worked for free for a year, and when he was paid, it was with difficulty. He also thinks the brothers would rather see the house die and would have preferred he had not shown this season at all.
The show went forth with little financial backing and much of the staff working for free. Style.com called it "one of the most poignant and emotionally fraught haute couture shows ever: a collection produced on a shoestring at the last minute, and only made possible by the collective will and donated time and skills of the seamstresses, embroiderers, jewelers, milliners, and shoemakers loyal to Christian Lacroix."
What's worse, Lacroix fears his name could be reduced to hawking sundries such as bed sheets and other licensed merchandise. From couture to bed sheets -- what could be worse?