LONDON — From a commercial perspective, Roland Mouret couldn't have picked a worse time to quit his company.
Retailers here said his fall collection, and especially his figure-hugging Galaxy dress, has been selling incredibly well. And after five years in business, the company expects to see its first profit in the 2005/2006 fiscal year, ending in April.
"The collection is selling before it even hits the floor, and you can bet it's going to be an even bigger seller now," said Jason Broderick, buyer for international designer wear at Harrods. He added that Mouret's limited-edition Galaxy dress at Harrods — in light brown wool angora — was an instant sell-out.
Tuesday, Mouret and his backers — Sharai Meyers, the firm's creative director, and Andre Meyers, the chairman — said they would part ways after the fall 2006 collection. The split, they said in a statement, was due to differences in strategic vision. The Roland Mouret trademark remains the property of the company.
Retailers were shocked, especially since sell-throughs have been growing exponentially. "The collection is selling phenomenally, and he's actually number one or two in our designer area," said Anna Garner, fashion director at Selfridges.
"The Galaxy dress has been our single most-requested piece of clothing for fall. It has shot Roland into a whole other dimension, and generated so much awareness and press attention. It has opened him up to a whole new public."
"We had 100 percent sell-throughs at regular price at both stores. There's not a piece left. We placed a significantly larger order for spring," said Jeffrey Kalinsky, president and chief executive officer of Jeffrey, the two-unit specialty store in New York and Atlanta.
Kalinsky said he's not upset yet because he doesn't know if Mouret will go to another firm. "I'll be upset if I can't buy clothes designed by Roland Mouret anymore. He's got a signature look that no one [else] does," describing it as "sexy screen siren."
Robert Burke, senior vice president of fashion and public relations at Bergdorf Goodman, said, "We've had good success the last three seasons with Roland. It's very sad to hear the news. We felt he was really making a name for himself and creating a distinctive and special style. Our New York customers are very attracted to it. It's a very sophisticated urban look. It's also merchandised very well from a price standpoint."
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