PARIS — Underscoring the vulnerability of small fashion businesses in the economic downturn, two labels founded by Danish designers have been shuttered.London-based Danish designer Jens Laugesen, known for his minimalist and androgynous designs, has closed his signature label after six years. That closure follows last month’s news that Danish luxury brand Camilla Staerk was shut by its owner, Danish fashion giant Bestseller, which, via a company called MTHP A/S, had financed Staerk since 2003.
Laugesen, who won Paris’ prestigious Andam award in 2006, plus British Fashion Council awards, cited a lack of investment and declining sales. “I won all the awards possible, had sponsorship in both London and Paris, but you still need some extra funding and it didn’t happen,” he said. “I am very thankful for all the support I have received over the last six years,” he continued. He was hailed as one of Denmark’s most promising designers: In May, he won designer of the year in the country’s first fashion awards, and past collections were carried by such marquee stores as Maria Luisa, Dover Street Market and Opening Ceremony. But Laugesen’s fall collection, featuring black catsuits and high-waist dresses, didn’t match that success.
“If you don’t go 20 percent forward to make cash flow, you can’t fund the next season’s development. It’s a catch-22 as a young designer,” Laugesen said. He added that, despite having potential manufacturing and distribution licensing deals in Belgium and Italy, plus backing from Danish investors, when none of those deals could be concluded by the crucial cutoff date for the next season, he decided to put the company into voluntary liquidation at the end of July. However, Laugesen said he’s not the first, and likely not the last, independent designer to close during this shaky period. “It’s even difficult for the big houses in Paris,” he said. “I’ve heard some are down 30 to 40 percent. And it’s not only the houses that have problems: Independent retailers are in difficulty.”
“Everyone is suffering,” agreed Christian Gregersen, chief executive officer of Gallery, the Copenhagen-based designer trade show. “If I were a young designer now, I would get a steady job at a big company, go get a lot of experience and see how the business is working from inside. Nobody’s going to lend them the money, and the shops aren’t going to bring in new designers right now because they’re all going for more well-known brands.”
Laugesen, who has created collections for fast-fashion giant Topshop and eyewear for Linda Farrow, said he’s in talks with different companies. “I’m looking forward to putting my design philosophy into practice, either with my own brand with a structured, grown-up business or in the role of creative director for an existing brand,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Camilla Staerk, meanwhile, said that, while business at the eight-year-old label, which split with its founder, Camilla Staerk, in 2006, had increased in recent years thanks to well-received collections, poor sales of the spring 2009 line shown in Copenhagen in August prompted the decision. “Everybody is struggling this season,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the collection will not be manufactured.
The move will end confusion for Staerk herself, who created a label simply called Staerk after losing the rights to the Camilla Staerk moniker when she fell out with her backers and left the company. Staerk is now based in New York, where she opened a flagship for her nascent label last summer.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)