It was the Eighties, when parties and purchasing power made for heady times. The stodgy haute couture lagged behind in excitement until a young renegade named Christian Lacroix emerged mid-decade from near anonymity at the house of Patou. He introduced the pouf, a frothy, frilly extravagance of a dress, and fashion went mad.
Soon after, in January 1987, WWD proclaimed his “supremacy as Paris’ newest, most exciting talent.” Lacroix parlayed the frenzy into a deal for his own house backed by Financière Agache, whose chairman was the young business phenom Bernard Arnault. (The next year Arnault would become the largest shareholder in LVMH.) Lacroix proved one of couture’s most faithful champions, over the years creating some of the most magical collections ever sprung from its realm. When he signed with Agache, his longtime associate Jean-Jacques Picart called the deal a contract for life. But the house never made money, and in 2005, LVMH sold it to the Florida-based Falic Group, a concern ill-suited to the highly specific, emotional world of high fashion. The couture and ready-to-wear collections were soon shuttered. Christian Lacroix SNC is now a licensing operation in which the designer has no part.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.