LONDON — The Mary Norton label has become the latest casualty of the struggling economy.
The South Carolina-based luxury accessories brand filed for Chapter 7 on Friday, and the Mary Norton stores in Los Angeles, on Melrose Place, and in Charleston, S.C., have closed.
On Tuesday, Marty Wikstrom, whose Atelier Fund holds a majority stake in the label, said Norton and Atelier’s investors had made a mutual decision to “stop and rethink” the business.
“The economic climate is dire, and young designers are especially hard-hit,” said Wikstrom. “The brand is in a high-end category, and there is a buying hiatus for those consumers right now.”
The Atelier Fund is backed by Compagnie Financière Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods conglomerate that owns Cartier, Chloé, Dunhill, Montblanc, IWC and other major brands. Wikstrom runs Atelier with Dawn Mello and Jon Brilliant, and their other investments include Harrys of London and Adam Lippes.
Norton is best known for her fine detailing, hand-finishing and embellishments such as beading, feathers and rosettes on evening bags and shoes. She founded her company in the mid-Nineties under the name Moo Roo, and changed it to its current name after Atelier took a majority stake in 2006.
The label was sold at stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods, where, until recently, bags were selling out. “The timeless, Hollywood glamour of Mary Norton’s bags really appeals to Harrods’ customers,” said Marigay McKee, the store’s fashion and beauty director, late last year.
The charismatic designer, whose first career was in film production, started the accessories business at her dining room table, customizing and embellishing bags. Over the years she attracted a celebrity clientele including Teri Hatcher, Tina Fey, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and Helen Mirren, all of whom have carried her bags on the red carpet.
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