NEW YORK — Susan Dell is gearing up to make the transition to wholesale, but that move entails some operational changes that included letting go of much of her New York staff this week.
While Dell is based in Austin, Tex., where she maintains a signature boutique, her design studio is in New York and serves as headquarters for its new president, Julia Hansen, who joined the company four weeks ago. The six-year-old company has followed an unusual direct-to-consumer business model, selling Dell’s designs mostly through private trunk shows at specialty stores and through the Internet, but now the wife of Dell Computers founder Michael Dell is beginning to think bigger.
The company plans to relaunch in 2004 with a collection available for wholesale orders that could greatly expand Dell’s presence in upscale stores around the country. In order to gear the company for such a move, Hansen said, changes were required in the sample room, production and merchandising areas of the company. She would not disclose how many employees were let go, but sources said the number represented a majority of the designer’s back office function.
Separately, Hansen confirmed that designer Steven Slowik, who joined Dell after one season as creative director of Bill Blass in 2000, has left the company, although his departure was described as amicable. Slowik was working closely with Dell on design and is said to remain close friends with the designer.
“We have built a strong identity with this brand by going direct to consumer in the past,” Hansen said. “We feel there is opportunity for this collection with a strong consumer market. In order to address that opportunity, we decided to look at the strategy for the brand in 2004 and beyond. We’re going to revamp the look and relaunch the brand in 2004.”
Dell is continuing to sell spring merchandise and will deliver fall orders to customers without interruption, Hansen said, noting that the transition into a wholesale company also will require immediate steps to begin restaffing.
“We will be building the right foundation and building blocks,” she said. “Over the next six to eight months, we are looking to have the right skill sets here to put that in place.”Hansen was previously president and chief executive officer of Zoot Sports Inc., a triathlon apparel company based in San Francisco, where she worked for three years before joining Dell in April to replace Linda Beauchamp. Beauchamp resigned to open her own consulting business and continues to work with the designer.
“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