Lacroix has closed its doors to haute-couture.
So, it’s the end for Lacroix as a fashion house.
Ever since its inception in the mid-80s, the Lacroix fashion house has struggled to stay alive. Not once in all those years has it ever made a profit. Now it will be producing only perfume and accessories, and most of its highly skilled staff will be laid off.
Bad news though it is, it is at least one degree better than the total bankruptcy many were expecting. The name, at least, will continue and one assumes there is always the possibility of the house itself rising again from the ashes, if a suitable buyer could be found.
Lacroix is by any stretch an imaginative designer, but his work suffers for several reasons: it is expensive, it is impossible to reproduce at a lower price level, it is too theatrical for many women to wear, and it looks at its very best in close up.
Until I saw Lacroix gowns in the flesh and was able to study their intricate detailing, I remained unmoved by their riot of colour and pattern. In photographs or on film, his garments often look a mess, and lack the strong silhouette that draws you to – say – a Chanel suit. Nor are they sexy in the way that a Versace gown is.
But in real life they are breathtakingly beautiful for beauty’s sake alone, and have a wondrous, almost fractal-like ability to draw you in, becoming more detailed the more that you study them.They really are the stuff of dreams, and it is no surprise that Lacroix has made such a feature of constructing wedding dresses over the years. Speaking as a craftsperson, I weep to think such skills might not be used again – one can only hope that Dior takes up the slack – and as many staff as possible from the defunct house.
A Lacroix gown was always something beyond the pocket of most of us, and now the only chance to see them will be in exhibitions at museums and art galleries. So, let us cherish them there, at least, for what they really are – wearable art of the highest order.