Bill Blass Couture closed Friday and laid off all of its 60-plus employees without any severance.
Staffers spent most of Friday packing up and saying goodbye. Hardest hit were the more than 20 sewers and workers who first punched the clock when the company’s namesake called the shots for decades, including some who were with Blass on his opening day in 1970.
“It’s been a crying-fest up here,” said one employee. “I never wanted to go through something like this again.”
Management at parent company NexCen Brands Inc. spread the word last week, but did not commit to severance. Some were told they may be eligible down the road, a Bill Blass staffer said.
A few former Bill Blass staffers speculated Sunday that any severance may be contingent on the sale of the Bill Blass brand and its ready-to-wear component. NexCen is said to be negotiating a deal to sell Bill Blass to Peacock, a company that specializes in men’s neckties, and is eager to finalize one by the end of the year, due to financial incentives established by an undisclosed bank.
NexCen executives declined comment Sunday. However, last week they confirmed talks were under way with more than one non-financial company.
Rather than hope for the best, the displaced Bill Blass workers planned to collect unemployment immediately, according to sources at the company.
Highlighting how strapped the company is, sources noted that NexCen plans to sell the no-longer-needed office furniture in Bill Blass’ Seventh Avenue showroom.
With his debonair style and steadfast support from well-heeled friends and longtime clients, Blass built the company into a multilicensed enterprise, with $500 million in annual sales in the late Eighties and early Nineties. That is a far cry from recent sales, which were said to be $500,000.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast