The fall of the CHRISTIAN LACROIX maison

French fashion guru Jean-jacques Picart shudders at the ignominious fate of Christian Lacroix. "It’s a terrible cruelty," he says. The Paris haute couture house was reduced to a mere licensing operation in December after undergoing bankruptcy proceedings last year. In March, the skeleton-staffed company announced deals to stamp the Lacroix name—the designer himself no longer has a say—on lines of eyewear, stationery, and home décor. "It’s pathetic," says Picart, who is credited with discovering Lacroix two decades ago. "It’s a declaration of incompetence. When you own a name like Lacroix, you don’t make notebooks."

When taking over Lacroix and included it in his portfolio, Bernard Arnault was optimistic about the potential of the French brand one of the remaining few which produced successful haute couture collections. Unfortunately, four CEO’s were appointed in less than 10 years and the house of Lacroix was losing more and more money. It was then, Mr Arnault decided to sell Lacroix.

Compared to the patience he seems to be giving to the even worse performing FENDI and CELINE, we come to wonder whether Mr Arnault never actually liked the brand, a condition which is a must for a brand to succeed. The same paradigm could be applied, yet at a different scale to Francois Pinault’s relationship with YSL, one of the brands of his Gucci Group portfolio.