Joss Sackler and Elizabeth Kennedy.

Unlike most fashion company founders, Joss Sackler took her front row seat at the first LBV runway show with two security guards in tow.

The two bulky men, like six or so others stationed on the Bowery Terrace, kept a watchful eye on the crowd and the catwalk. Before the show started, four of them greeted guests outdoors on the sidewalk. The security detail seemed substantial given the relatively compact crowd of 100 or so.  Why the concern? Joss is married to David Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. In recent months, consumers have rallied against and, in some instances, sued the prescription drug company for its hand in the opioid crisis, and many have called on cultural institutions supported by the Sackler Foundation and the family’s trust to refuse grants, as was the case with London’s National Portrait Gallery. After its Fifth Avenue location was swarmed with protestors earlier this year, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum said it will not accept future donations from the London-based Sackler Trust. Other institutions have also followed suit.

After the debut of LBV’s ready-to-wear collection Monday afternoon, the LBV founder was only interested in discussing the runway. “I can’t address the controversy. I can just say that I am so proud of Elizabeth [Kennedy] and our team. This was such a success. Everybody put in so much hard work,” Sackler said, pausing to kiss her mother who joined her father in the crowd. Earlier, the latter shook his head and walked away when asked about the tumultuous situation.

When Sackler was asked about the amount of security for the relatively small-sized show, and whether that was something that she lived with day-to-day, she said, “Not at all. I’ve never been to another fashion show so I don’t know what the comparable security amount is.”

As the interview steered toward whether selling direct-to-consumer was a means to avoiding dealing with the controversy at retail, Sackler, wearing a fire-engine red evening gown, stepped away momentarily to bring in a spokeswoman. After asking not to be quoted directly, that individual said someone had been enlisted to handle all wholesale accounts. With that, Sackler exited the conversation.

The LBV collection will be shown in Paris during fashion week there to appeal to international buyers, creative director Kennedy said. “We’re hopefully partnering with some amazing retail partners here in the states and overseas. E-commerce will launch in January so that will be in tandem when the collection hits retailers,” she said, adding that definitive orders were expected next week.

As for the controversy surrounding the Sackler family, Kennedy did not respond directly when asked if she struggled with that personally in any way. “You know, no, ultimately I hope that people see the clothes and that they’re beautiful. And [they] understand that Joss has nothing to do with that directly and that we’re trying to build something beautiful here. Hopefully, the clothes will speak for themselves.”

 

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