Lars Nilsson whacked at Bill Blass

Discussion in 'Designers and Collections' started by classic1908, Feb 17, 2003.

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  1. classic1908

    classic1908 Member

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    From the New York Times
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    February 14, 2003
    Talk of the Tents: What's Behind a Designer's Exit?
    By RUTH LA FERLA


    Neither the backing of key retailers nor the support of leading society figures could spare Lars Nilsson, the designer for Bill Blass, the pain of being fired on Wednesday, a day after he showed his fifth collection for the house.

    Mr. Nilsson's dismissal, as abrupt as it was unforeseen, came on the heels of lackluster performance at retail, the company said. Retail sales of the line exceeded $20 million last year. Nonetheless, Michael Groveman, a principal in the company, said that while the collections had been well received by the fashion press, they "reflected a radical departure from the spirit of the house." As a result, he said, "sales did not live up to expectations."

    Mr. Groveman declined to comment on rumors that the designer Michael Vollbracht would head a new design team, or to elaborate on why Mr. Nilsson was dismissed a day after his show. "It is never a good time," he said. "It was simply something we thought we had to do."

    Nevertheless, his decision to send Mr. Nilsson and five other design employees packing in the middle of Fashion Week was the talk of the tents, its timing sending a message that the company lacked confidence in the collection.

    The dismissal was also a shock to former devotees of Mr. Blass's snappy but understated suits and dresses, who had rallied behind Mr. Nilsson in recent months. "Lars was finding his way as a young designer," said Blaine Trump, who purchased several items, including a pinstripe suit, from Mr. Nilsson's spring collection. "It was one of the best-cut suits I've ever worn," she said.

    Others inside the industry said that Mr. Nilsson's failure to respect the Blass legacy culminated in tension between the designer and the owners. André Leon Talley, Vogue's editor at large, described the atmosphere last weekend as seething with frustration. Mr. Nilsson, he said, seemed "pent up because the owners were so hands-on."

    "He couldn't even do an embroidery unless it was approved," Mr. Talley said, adding that such restrictive conditions were not typical in the industry. "Before the show, I did feel that you could cut the tension with a knife."

    Mr. Nilsson conceded that there had been friction. "I was frustrated," he said, "because there had never been a clear message about where the company wanted to be in one year or five years." He added that he had been forced to submit every design for the owners' approval, "something which can be quite hard in the creative process."

    Mr. Nilsson added that he found the timing of his dismissal "very punishing." "We've really been building up an incredible relationship with the stores," he said.

    Retailers were divided in their assessment of Mr. Nilsson's performance. "He struck a balance between keeping the integrity of the house and propelling it forward," said Jacqui Lividini, the senior vice president for fashion merchandising at Saks.

    At Bergdorf Goodman, however, Robert Burke, the fashion director, said that recent Blass collections had been somewhat disappointing. The challenge for a designer taking the reins at a legendary house, he said, is to satisfy existing clientele and at the same time find a new customer. "Lars may have had a degree of success, but I think old-line customers were not all that charmed."

    And the old-line folx sure can vote with their wallets, or their husbands' wallets, as it were. :p



    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
     
  2. LolitaLuxe

    LolitaLuxe Vision of Paradise

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    sounds like he shouldnt have been there in the first place. being fired is horrible, but maybe lars will soon find his niche and find success without a dictatorship over looking every move. :| that had to be hard.
     
  3. classic1908

    classic1908 Member

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    That does sound very stifling. But then again, it looks like the ownership maybe didn't communicate what they wanted in the beginning and piled on with the micromanagement.

    I liked some of LN's stuff. But the only BB I own is a spring 1999 jacket designed by the master himself.
     
  4. xopher215

    xopher215 New Member

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    The overseer phenom one of the reasons that Alexander McQueen fled LVMH. This plus the fact that they openly seated him "second fiddle" to Galliano.

    Lars's firing was extremely ill-timed and utterly disrespectful to him. It's a scoff at the considerable attention that he brought to the house, which really is always good even if reviews aren't. Things like this often tend to color my opinions of a company far more than its product even.
     
  5. Astrid21

    Astrid21 New Member

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    Exactly! It's crappy they fired him after he showed and worked hard on the collection. :mad: That's like firing someone on a Friday after they worked all day. :roll:
     
  6. ultramarine

    ultramarine chaos reigns

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    Totally agree ... those cowards!
     
  7. Abril

    Abril New Member

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    BILL BLASS confirmed yesterday that Michael Vollbracht will take over as creative director of the house. A close friend of Blass, who died last June at the age of 79, Vollbracht was rumoured to be considering taking up the job after Lars Nilsson's shock firing just 24 hours after presenting his autumn/winter 2003 ready-to-wear collection for the house last month. Currently an art director for books, Vollbracht upheld his close association with the house after his friend's death and was heavily involved in a Bill Blass retrospective at the Indiana University Art Museum last December. He will now oversee the entire womenswear collection and attempt to reposition the image of the brand as a whole. Admitting that he was keen to continue the signature Blass elements, Vollbracht expressed his excitement at the opportunities that the new position awarded to him. "I want to create elegant, sexy and pretty clothes," he said. (March 5 2003, AM)
     
  8. classic1908

    classic1908 Member

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    Interesting. I'd heard about Vollbracht taking over. Wasn't he once known as Michaele or something like that?
     
  9. Abril

    Abril New Member

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    classic, to be honest i have no idea of who he is :shock: :oops:
     

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