NEW YORK — In what appears to be yet another tale of a marriage between a designer and their backer gone sour, Devi Kroell has left the company that bears her name.
On Thursday, the six-year-old luxury accessories and ready-to-wear label confirmed that “Kroell has decided that she will step down from the company she established. She informed her staff on Tuesday that she is resigning as the [chief executive officer] and creative director of the company, although she will remain a shareholder and a member of the board of directors.”
The board named Ralph Bartel interim ceo, and the company said it plans to continue to build on the “design concepts” of the brand.
Europe’s Bartel family, which took a 12.5 percent stake in Lanvin parent Arpège SAS in November, also has been the silent financial partner behind Kroell’s business since 2008.
Kroell launched her brand with a line of handbags in exotic skins in 2004. She quickly established a following among editors and retailers with her python bags and wooden clutches, and her early successes led her to win the Swarovski Perry Ellis Award for Accessory Design at the 2006 CFDA Fashion Awards.
Kroell grew her brand with shoes in 2006, and ready-to-wear two years later. With Bartel’s financial backing, Kroell started to expand, opening a 3,000-square-foot store at 717 Madison Avenue designed by New York design firm Space4 Architecture in October, followed by a store at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As the time of the Manhattan opening, Kroell also stated plans to open units in Houston, Chicago, Florida, California and a second New York address within the next two years.
However, the relationship between Kroell and her investor seems to have become strained. Ralph Bartel was the founder of the New York-based Internet media firm Travelzoo, was its ceo and president until 2008 and, in recent months, is said to have become increasingly involved in the day-to-day operations at Devi Kroell.
Kroell could not be reached for comment.
While the designer maintains a stake and her board seat, she is unlikely to take an active role, or any role at all, in the future of the firm. She is said to have a new project in the pipeline.
“Devi has achieved her goal in creating a worldwide luxury brand,” the company stated. “She will now be moving onto new challenges. We at Devi Kroell Inc. wish her the greatest success in her future projects.”
“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