Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fashion's Name Game

Who'll revive Poiret?

You've heard of musical chairs? Fashion is a game of musical hangers. A piece in The New York Times (10/5/14), aptly titled "Split Seams", set forth the news that Peter Copping is leaving the French couture house of Nina Ricci (possibly to go to Oscar de la Renta in New York), and Guillaume Henry is leaving Carven (possibly to go to Nina Ricci). This was on top of Jean Paul Gautier closing his ready-to-wear line. That last comes almost as a relief, because nowadays it seems he would just get someone else to do it.

This isn't only happening in Paris, of course. Thomas Burberry himself hasn't designed a raincoat for years. He died in 1926. Burberry is designed by Christopher Bailey. Calvin Klein retired in 2003; Francisco Costa is his replacement. But that's Fashion as Business. French fashion has always seemed above the fray, but now you truly need a scorecard. The names of the French couture houses are dripping with history. Some of the greats have shuttered (sadly no more Paul Poiret), but many are just being designed by other people. To wit:

Dior  Raf Simons
Balenciaga  Alexander Wang
Chanel  Karl Lagerfeld
Ricci  Peter Copping*
Lanvin  Alber Elbaz
Givenchy  Ricardo Tisci
Balmain  Olivier Rousteing
Valentino  Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri
Ungaro  Fausto Puglisi
Carven  Guillame Henry*
Vuitton  Nicolas Ghesquiere
St. Laurent  Hedi Slimane
Vionnet  Hussein Chalayan

Does the length of this list strike you as a little screwy? Many of these designers are so talented they surely deserve to helm their own labels, not be linked with someone else. But would you rather own a Valentino or a Chiuri?

With the exception of Karl Lagerfeld, who has picked apart and tortured Chanel for the past 31 years, the work of many bear little resemblance to that of the masters before them. I shudder to think what Valentino, Givenchy or even Calvin Klein must think when they see what their names are serving up. Perhaps they're like me when I saw my old house again for the first time in ten years. They don't completely look.

* Stay tuned

1 comment:

  1. "...Karl Lagerfeld, who has picked apart and tortured Chanel for the past 31 years ..." Thanks for that! You've articulated something I've felt about K.L.'s work at Chanel.