Yesterday, the fashion world suffered another setback due to the recession (and yes, the loss of a great artist’s work is a setback, despite the populist mobs that would have couture burned along with bad mortgages on the stock-exchange floors): Haute couture designer Christian (that’s Christ-eee-ahn) Lacroix filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And while this doesn’t mean that he’s retiring completely—Chapter 11 means the lights stay on and dresses will still be made—it suggests the end of the design house, and the fashion world is already mourning. The designer, whose architectural “pouf” dresses made him a star in the late '80s, was backed for decades by Bernard Arnault of LVMH, but never turned a profit. When Arnault sold Lacroix in 2005, that was the beginning of the end and the financial crisis sounded a death knell for the brand’s current business model.
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But we will always have the clothes! Lacroix has the distinction of being a designer that, while involved in the highest and most expensive level of couture, was someone that many people loved—from fashion editors to celebrities—and remained loyal to throughout his career. As longtime fashion writer Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni puts it, “Lacroix's couture shows made you dream. Sometimes the dresses and jackets were so exquisite with their rich and original embellishments that they moved you to tears. Personally, I've always judged people in the fashion world by whether they got Lacroix or not, and not having a Lacroix show will make a big difference during couture week in Paris.”