After two-and-a-half years as creative director at Diane von Furstenberg, Yvan Mispelaere is out the door.
This story first appeared in the September 12, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
His abrupt departure was announced just 48 hours after von Furstenberg’s spring runway show, which was met with mixed reviews. Mispelaere will not be replaced, with the design team continuing to be directed by von Furstenberg, according to a statement released by the company Tuesday night.
Mispelaere, who was described as “stepping down from his post effective immediately,” was known to be a tactile designer with a fondness for the Art Deco and Bauhaus periods, along with the design canon of Yves Saint Laurent. A veteran of Chloé, Valentino, Louis Féraud and other brands, he worked for Gucci before joining von Furstenberg in March 2010.
He could not be reached for comment at press time.
“I am so grateful for the contributions Yvan brought to DVF and fully support him as he takes the next step in his career. Yvan joined us almost three years ago and has added enormous value. He also put together a highly skilled design team to support our growth both in fashion and accessories,” von Furstenberg said. “I am very thankful and proud of his accomplishments here and I look forward to our strong team continuing to create the signature DVF look for women everywhere.”
His exit comes on the heels of Joel Horowitz joining the company as cochairman. A 35-year industry veteran and one of the architects of Tommy Hilfiger’s multichannel success, Horowitz signed on with von Furstenberg less than three weeks ago. Industry sources said Horowitz’s plan is to take a stake in the company, and that he was brought on board to make the firm more ship-shape professionally. Given Horowitz’s track record, the speculation is that an initial public offering or outside investment could be the ultimate goal.
In the company statement released Tuesday, Mispelaere said, “I came to DVF to help further the brand’s mission and create a world-class design team. I am confident we have been able to achieve that during my time with the company. I can’t thank Diane enough for the opportunity to work with her and such talented people. The group is now well-positioned for even greater success, and I am eager to take on my next challenge.”
With founder von Furstenberg and Horowitz serving as cochairmen, they jointly oversee the board. President Paula Sutter continues to manage the day-to-day business and will report to the board.
When Mispelaere joined von Furstenberg in 2010, he replaced Nathan Jenden, who had left to start his own label. At that time, von Furstenberg noted that while many fashion houses engage new designers to rescue or jump-start a business, that was not the case. “I’m not looking for a doctor,” she said. “He’s not coming to save the ship. He’s only coming to make it better.”
“I hope Yvan will immediately put his signature on the collection,” the designer said in her first joint interview with Mispelaere. “I’m curious to see his slant. But it will still be DVF.”