Byline: Brid Costello

PARIS — Louis Feraud, the French ready-to-wear and couture house, is parting ways with designer Yvan Mispelaere and “evaluating” its couture business.
“In order to succeed in its new developments, and in the context that the house of Feraud and its designer, Yvan Mispelaere, have decided in common accord to put an end to their collaboration, the work of the haute couture department is under evaluation,” the company said Friday.
As reported March 4, Mispelaere was having difficulties reaching an agreement with Feraud on the future strategy of the brand.
The designer, who had one year left on his contract, will leave at the end of the week to pursue personal projects.
“[Feraud] wanted to maintain existing, older clients,” said Mispelaere, reached by phone on Friday. “[I wanted to make the brand] younger, but they weren’t ready for a decision as radical as that.”
The departure of Mispelaere could mark the end of an era for Feraud couture.
The reevaluation of that business could result in a total cessation of couture activities, depending on the outcome of deliberations under way at the company, according to Feraud’s managing director, Michael Rover.
“We are restructuring Feraud,” said Rover. “We have new shareholders and they are looking into every area [of the business] and it is natural that we look into couture.”
Rover was referring to the joint venture formed by Escada AG and the Dutch firm Secon last July to control Feraud. Under the terms of the deal, Escada and Secon each hold 45 percent of the firm and Rover has the remaining 10 percent.
Rover said that Feraud is considering its options going forward — the firm might continue its couture line, or it might introduce high-end Pret-a-Porter in its place. The rtw line, which Rover estimated would be about 50 percent more expensive than the existing Feraud women’s rtw that retails between $614 and $1,140, would act as a bridge between couture and rtw. Rover also said there is a possibility of introducing the high-end rtw and maintaining couture.
Rover indicated that the company would name a designer in plenty of time to design spring 2003 rtw for an October presentation.
In 2000, sales of rtw at Feraud reached about $45.7 million at wholesale, with roughly half of that generated from the U.S. market. In total, the brand’s volume was about $91.4 million at wholesale.
A decision will not be made before the end of April, Rover said.
To this end, Feraud has tapped Francois Xavier de Monts to act as its chief executive officer, starting in early April. Monts, who previously acted as director of worldwide distribution (outside the U.S.) for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, will succeed Peter Heijt in the role. Heijt is to take up a position on Feraud’s supervisory board, Rover said.
Feraud was founded in 1950 by Louis Feraud, who died on Dec. 29, 1999. The brand is today distributed in 300 stores around the world including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s and Galeries Lafayette. The firm also has 10 freestanding stores and a couture atelier in Paris.

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