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02-12-2014
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squilliam's Avatar
 
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Should fashion houses continue after the original designer is gone?

I searched and couldn't find a thread like this.
I found this interview of Alexander McQueen saying that he prefers that his house does not continue after he's gone. As we all know, his house is still open several years after his passing. Many houses are still open after their founder's passing. Many dead houses are being resurrected (like Schiaparelli). A lot of these houses no longer follow their founder's vision, although some designers do try to stick to house codes. But when you have houses like Balmain doing rocker chic when the original Balmain was nothing like that, and people like Alexander Wang at Balenciaga copying his predecessor Ghesquiere instead of following Cristobal Balenciaga, what's the point? Why keep these houses open if they have become nothing more than a name that has little to do with its founder? There are some designers who are around to see what's happening to their house after they're gone, and some have a say in what happens. Some, like Oscar de la Renta, tried to make plans for what would happen after they're gone. But for a lot of these houses that's not the case. And now they're trying to bring back long gone houses such as House of Worth and Schiaparelli. Why? What's the point? Are they just using the famous name? I admit I love some of the designers that have taken over these houses and detest others. I would love to see a resurrected Schiaparelli and House of Worth and Paul Poiret and Madame Gres(if done right). But should such things be done?
Should a fashion house die with it's founder if the founder never states that they want it to continue. Should we just assume that they want it to continue?

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03-12-2014
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Lee was right about closing his house. Look at McQueen now. It's all about victorian and maximalism without any soul. He owned 50% of his brand and was totally capable to buy back and close but, we all know what happened.

We have to many fashion houses with no fresh vision.
Chanel was the first and it's still the most successful example because Karl was talented enough for the job and had the good vision at the right time. The 80's weren't about Couture. It was a RTW time and when he started the RTW in 1984, the relaunch of the house started to boom!
Do we need Poiret, les Soeurs Callot or Mainbocher to open again? NO!
Houses like Ungaro, Cardin, Mugler or Jil Sander should close.

While i would like some of those houses to close, i hope some of them remains open but instead of hiring a new creative director, release archive pieces.
Helmut Lang is a joke now. They should have open just one store in Paris and release seasons after seasons pieces and prototypes designed by Helmut Lang himself. Something a bit like Balenciaga Edition.

What Gaultier is doing is very great! No one can take over his fashion house after him. No one! The couture department will close after his departure but the perfume business is strong enough to stay forever.

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03-12-2014
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Well, I'm pretty happy that Lanvin is still around.

I doubt he would say the same thing right now ... would he really have wanted all of his employees to lose their jobs at his death?

I think it's a different thing when the house is running vs. when it has already been shuttered.

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03-12-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fashionista-ta View Post
Well, I'm pretty happy that Lanvin is still around.

I doubt he would say the same thing right now ... would he really have wanted all of his employees to lose their jobs at his death?

I think it's a different thing when the house is running vs. when it has already been shuttered.
That's a very valid point. Though would a designer want his house to continue under his name doing things that he doesn't represent or stand for? For some designers it's just clothes, but for others it's their heart and soul. McQueen I think was one of the latter. I think for designers who feel that way about their work, they wouldn't want someone to take over and change everything.

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04-12-2014
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It really depends on the house, establishments as distinguished as Thierry Mugler and Alexander McQueen should close, while they lend themselves to great potential they won't achieve it unless they have another talented and innovative designer.

I know Thierry HATES that he was bought out by the Clarin's group and he really doesn't have much say in the new Mugler lines even though they try and value his aesthetics, the difference is a while ago you can spot a Thierry Mugler piece from MILES away and now it just blends with the Vaccarello, Balmain's and Vauthiers of the new age. The house really has potential but they can't find a designer that can really bring it like Thierry did.

Now sometimes a house can be used to bring in new talent and slowly blend in the previous aesthetics like Balanciaga, Givenchy, Dior and to a somewhat degree Christophe Decarnin's Balmain did. I don't think Galliano, Tisci, Ghesquere would have really made it through, or be as big as they are if they did not have the backing of a prestigious house name, but they did honor the heritage of the house, they were able to gather certain elements and morph them into modern days.

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04-12-2014
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Fashion is a business first and foremost, and designers who do not understand that are going to have a much harder path to success.

Gucci Group/Kering signed a partnership agreement with McQueen in 2001 and the house broke even in 2008. If it had shut down with McQueen's passing, Kering would have made a big loss. Whilst there are few who can touch the house's namesake in terms of vision I feel (as an unashamed Lee McQueen superfan) that the brand has successfully walked a very tricky tightrope. It has kept its legacy close, resisting branching out into Stella McCartney-esque sportswear collabs, perfumes, make-up, H&M collections etc - things that did actually happen when McQueen was alive. The closest thing the brand has to mass-market are the skull scarves (another creation of it's founder), but they are still a luxury product.

I feel that once investors have put years and even decades of work into taking a designer and turning their name into a brand there are too many outside interests involved to let it all die with the founder. If a designer wants to retain that kind of control, they have to retain majority ownership - impossible if you're looking at making a global brand. After McQueen's stint at Givenchy, it seems likely he would have understood exactly what he was doing when he signed on with Kering.


Last edited by cultofcloth; 04-12-2014 at 07:51 AM.
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04-12-2014
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^ Does Dries not have a global brand?

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08-12-2014
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Dries DOES have a global brand. But he doesnt play the fashion game. He does not advertise, puts an effort into presentation and quality and that formula has worked. Without forgetting a great team and control over his label.

McQueen was like that at some point, he didnt even advertise, the shows were EVERYTHING.

I agree that people forget fashion houses are businesses and fashion brands. I think they house should carry on. Can you imagine losing Gucci under TF's control? Missing all those delectable pieces? He is SO worth it.

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08-12-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultramarine View Post
Dries DOES have a global brand. But he doesnt play the fashion game. He does not advertise, puts an effort into presentation and quality and that formula has worked. Without forgetting a great team and control over his label.

McQueen was like that at some point, he didnt even advertise, the shows were EVERYTHING.

I agree that people forget fashion houses are businesses and fashion brands. I think they house should carry on. Can you imagine losing Gucci under TF's control? Missing all those delectable pieces? He is SO worth it.
Some designers like him were TOTALLY worth it, even if they didn't always stick to house codes. But then you get the really bad designers that just desecrate the house(*cough* Hedi Slimane *cough*) and it's aggrevating. I do think some houses like John Galliano and Lacroix should be closed, I really don't see why they're open if they rarely made money. But I think another issue is reopening old houses that have been closed for long time(sometimes by the founder), it's been done and there are some really successful houses like that, but is it necessary?

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08-12-2014
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Funny enough, when I think of desecration I think of Ford for YSL.

Some houses are desperate attempts by suits in order to make money, I mean its super sad when you see P&G buying a house just to license it perfumes. Or see a talented designer like Lacroix fold.

The issue here is that this policies do not allow for new talent to emerge and create NEW aesthetics. Before it was hard for a designer to launch, nowadays? It seems almost impossible.

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09-12-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultramarine View Post
Funny enough, when I think of desecration I think of Ford for YSL.

Some houses are desperate attempts by suits in order to make money, I mean its super sad when you see P&G buying a house just to license it perfumes. Or see a talented designer like Lacroix fold.

The issue here is that this policies do not allow for new talent to emerge and create NEW aesthetics. Before it was hard for a designer to launch, nowadays? It seems almost impossible.

Hence why the old names are dragged back from the grave - the socialite's daughter will remember grandmama's wedding dress was made by Balenciaga and will have a soft spot for the name when it comes back.
(Though that theory would probably be totally void now if grandmama's dress was made at the house of Emanuel Ungaro)
It's packaging - if the name held status before it will hold status again.

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09-12-2014
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I think that's a good point that Crying Diamonds brings up.

I believe that in large part why these fashion houses continue on is that in many ways it is a guarantee for the global customer. It's a guarantee of caché first and foremost. An average customer who might be stretching their budget to acquire something designer is most likely going to place their dollars at a fashion label that they can rest assured will always be valuable - valuable to pass down, or valuable to re-sell. Caché doesn't come out of nowhere - it's built over many years, global visibility, brand ambassadors, and of course, not least of all a quality product. At a certain point caché alone can draw millions upon millions of customers into a store. Think of Vuitton. The average Vuitton customer probably had no idea that Marc Jacobs was the head designer for over a decade, and even less so that Nicolas Ghesquiere is the current one. However, those talented designers are given a huge platform to expirement and create because of the company's enormous revenue. That can't be a bad thing.

Ultimately, fashion is a business - and it can be an amazing one when talent meets money. It's a rare occurrence and the combination is almost always dynamite both creatively and financially. Think of Tom Ford for Gucci, think of Marc Jacobs at Vuitton, think of John Galliano for Dior, think of Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, think of Miuccia at Prada, etc. etc. When I have a hard time with the idea of brands being kept alive is when they're headed up by a second rate, anonymous designer - Rochas by Zanini, Nina Ricci by Copping, and all the other brands like Carven, Vionnet, etc, etc.

In a perfect world new, young talents could and would be given full financial backing - but the reality is the overhead to start a high end designer label from scratch is monumentally expensive. And even if a new designer were to get a lot of fashion press, they would still most likely be known only by those fashion insiders who keep up with the industry - and that's simply not a large enough customer base to justify the millions of dollars needed to invest. Furthermore, to go back to my original point, a more average customer will simply not feel safe enough buying a new, young designer product if they knew that the brand would simply end at some point and potentially be forgotten, rendering their purchases value-less (in a financial way, of course...the inherent value of quality and design wouldn't suffer - a good product is a good product).

Just my two cents!


Last edited by dior_couture1245; 09-12-2014 at 06:40 PM.
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09-12-2014
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^ I'm not sure people are thinking as hard about their purchases as you are

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09-12-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fashionista-ta View Post
^ I'm not sure people are thinking as hard about their purchases as you are
While certainly most are not consciously thinking these things as they shop - they most definitely are "investing." And a Vuitton bag or an Hermes scarf is an infinitely more sound "investment" than buying the latest skirt from Christopher Kane.

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Last edited by dior_couture1245; 09-12-2014 at 09:04 PM.
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15-01-2015
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Here's what Hubert de Givenchy thinks about today's fashion (this article from vogue.uk.com)
Quote:
HUBERT DE GIVENCHY, one of the past century's most famous designers and the only major name surviving from the golden age of haute couture, has passed a damning verdict on the state of fashion today: "Vulgar." The legendary couturier asserted that the pace of collections must be slowed."Fashion should evolve slowly, without any revolution," he said. "Only in this way a dress can be loved and last. I do not say this to boast, but when seeing those designs [images in an exhibition from his design days], we observe that it is not so far from fashion."
Givenchy helped pioneer the concept of ready-to-wear with his 1954 Separates collection, giving women beautifully constructed pieces as an alternative to an evening gown.
"If I had to start over, I'll do the same thing, street clothes are the future, the client can choose two or three things, and combine them as she wants," he told EFE of his watershed collection, adding that he still remembers Cristóbal Balenciaga as the man who changed his life and career: "He supported and helped me, as he did with many others. He was always ready to advise and help; he was an excellent person."

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