By  on February 22, 2005

PARIS — For Christian Lacroix, small is beautiful.

In the coming weeks, the designer is expected to finalize negotiations with the Falic Group, the travel retail firm that bought his signature fashion house from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton last month.

Without commenting on the likelihood of an agreement, Lacroix hinted that he is attracted to the “human scale” of the family-owned firm. “I am positive,” he said in an interview last week. And while Emilio Pucci remains part of the LVMH empire, it is perhaps its similar dimension that explains why Lacroix has thrived there as its designer, even as his signature brand languished under LVMH.

Indeed, in a separate interview, Laudomia Pucci, Emilio Pucci’s daughter and the image director of the house, used precisely the same term — “human scale” — to laud the brand’s petite boutiques in an age of megastores. Its forthcoming location in Capri, for example, is a jewel box of a site, not much bigger than a studio apartment.

Still there is nothing small about the successful marriage of Pucci and Lacroix, who shows his sixth collection for the house in Milan today. Sales in 2004 almost doubled, and revenue has more than quadrupled since 2000.

That makes it one of the fastest-growing luxury brands in Europe, let alone within the vast constellation of names at LVMH. The French group does not break down figures by individual brands, but market sources estimate Pucci’s sales at about 30 million euros, or about $39 million at current exchange, and that the brand is profitable.

“[Christian’s] artistic vision has been key to the success of Pucci and it remains key,” said Catherine Vautrin, chief executive officer of Pucci. “For us, it’s a marriage that works and we want to go forward.”

Lacroix’s contract with the house runs through March 2006, and both parties seem keen on extending a fruitful relationship.

Indeed, Lacroix is eager to see the high-flying Florentine house grow even faster. Given the strength of prints in fashion right now, he’s convinced it’s the opportune moment to blow out Pucci men’s wear — and why not home furnishings? He would also like to see more jeans and streetwear in the collection, since “life has changed” and he sees young urban women in cities like New York mixing “wannabe Pucci or even fake Pucci” with denim and sportswear.

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