May 29, 2009
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Crisis-hit Christian Lacroix pledges to fight for fashion house

May 29, 2009

PARIS, May 29, 2009 (AFP) - French fashion king Christian Lacroix has pledged to fight to the hilt to maintain his prestigious couture house, declared insolvent this week after falling foul of the global crisis.

Christian Lacroix - Photo : AFP

In a letter penned by Lacroix to the firm's 125 staff that was read to AFP by a company source on Friday 29 May, the designer said:

"I don't know what tomorrow will be made of, if indeed there is a tomorrow, but I will do everything to ensure we remain a couture house 200 percent, and to safeguard a knowhow without which the lungs and heart of this house would not exist."

He said he had been designing for free for the last months and that Christian Lacroix SNC owed him 1.2 million euros.

He also slammed the "shareholders' strange management," later in the note dubbing it "catastrophic."

Acquired from the world's leading luxury giant LVMH in 2005 by US duty free giant Falic, Christian Lacroix SNC said in a statement Thursday 28 May that it had declared insolvency before a Paris court due to "the sharp downturn of the luxury market."

The company "has filed a voluntary petition with the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris to put itself under the protection of the courts" but intends "to present a continuation plan" and "to maintain its business operations throughout the proceedings."

Declaring insolvency is a first step towards bankruptcy protection.

A company spokesperson said the court would hand down a decision within a week. Lacroix, 58, was unavailable for comment.

Celebrated for his exuberant swathes of lace and embroidery, and patchworks of fabrics in vibrant colours, Lacroix hit the catwalks over 20 years ago with dramatic designs inspired by the costumes of his native Arles in the south of France, and the Camargue, with its gypsies and bullfighters.

But sales have failed to match the excitement generated by each of his collections and Thursday 29 May's announcement is a strong setback for the couture house.

After the 2005 buy-out, the company launched "an ambitious and costly restructuring plan to reposition the brand offering to higher end collections," including the opening of two US stores, one in Las Vegas, one in New York.

"Unfortunately, this longterm strategy for repositioning of the brand was dramatically hindered by the current and ongoing world financial and economic crisis which severely hit the luxury sector," the company said.

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