eff the recession

Department Stores Dropped Christian Lacroix, and Now It’s on the Money Hunt

Christian Lacroix, fall 2009.

The house of Christian Lacroix is in talks to sell a stake to private investors because sales are way, way down and they need the money. Running a couture fashion house requires very high overhead. Houses like Dior and Chanel offset this with royalties from licensing deals for things like fragrances and sunglasses, but the privately owned Lacroix hasn’t been able to do that in the downturn. Department stores have reduced orders across the board — typically by around 20 or 30 percent — and aren’t taking risks with labels that might not sell well. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus carried Lacroix last year but dropped it this year. Saks will carry Lacroix for spring but placed no orders for fall. Barneys, naturally, has reportedly placed orders for fall Lacroix.

Lacroix falls into the risk category not because it isn’t lovely — which, as you can see from the picture here, it most definitely is — but because it’s effing expensive. The spring collection includes a $6,685 silk calligraphy-print gown and a $4,505 silk trench coat. Sure, Balmain can unload its $1,500 acid-wash jeans as if they’re free, even in the downturn. But Lacroix isn’t that cool. It also doesn’t generate the same buzz during show season as a label like Lanvin, which is also exorbitantly priced. And let’s face it — it’s hard to wear Lacroix and look understated, which is supposedly the aesthetic shamed rich people are going for these days. Balmain, again, is the exception because it’s just that cool. Hmmm. Maybe all these troubled luxury houses should just start making acid-wash jeans, which would cost them basically nothing.

Fashion House Lacroix Seeks Partner [WSJ]

Department Stores Dropped Christian Lacroix, and Now It’s on the Money Hunt