Serge Ruffieux Out at Car­ven

Af­ter three sea­sons, the de­signer has not been re­tained by the be­lea­guered brand’s new owner, Ici­cle.

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY KATYA FORE­MAN

PARIS — Fash­ion's re­volv­ing door has piv­oted again, with Car­ven's Serge Ruffieux con­firm­ing his de­par­ture from the la­bel via an In­sta­gram post on Mon­day.

“I have cher­ished these past 18 months at Car­ven, a big thank you to my team, the cre­atives, the stu­dio and the ate­liers. I wish the house all the best,” the de­signer said. He had been in the cre­ative driv­ing seat of the brand for three sea­sons. The post was ac­com­pa­nied by a black-and-white im­age of a woman's face with a shadow of a chain mark­ing her cheek, like a tear.

The house in a brief state­ment thanked the de­signer for his cre­ative in­put and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

As re­ported, Ruffieux's con­tract was not part of a 4.2 mil­lion- euro deal pre­sented by Car­ven's new Chi­nese owner, Ici­cle, and ap­proved by a Paris com­mer­cial court in mid-Oc­to­ber, fol­low­ing a tu­mul­tuous bank­ruptcy chap­ter for the his­toric French house.

The deal with Ici­cle, which in­cludes Car­ven's whole­sale busi­ness — that gen­er­ates 80 per­cent of to­tal sales — along with its five stores and e-com­merce ac­tiv­ity, cov­ered job con­tracts for 72 out of 73 em­ploy­ees — all but Ruffieux.

Ici­cle at the time re­leased a state­ment say­ing that, while it rec­og­nizes Ruffieux's great tal­ent, “we need time to eval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion and make de­ci­sions that are the most ap­pro­pri­ate to ac­com­pany the re­launch­ing of Car­ven, no­tably for what con­cerns cre­ative di­rec­tion and style.”

Em­ployee num­bers had been whit­tled down from 103 in the spring, when bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings were trig­gered.

Ici­cle said it plans to ex­pand the French la­bel in China and open 33 stores in the coun­try over the next three years, and in­ject around 8 mil­lion eu­ros of in­vest­ment into the house.

Car­ven was founded in 1945 by Madame Marie-Louise Car­ven, born Car­men de Tom­maso, a peer of Chris­tian Dior and Pierre Bal­main. The fa­mously pe­tite cou­turier was known for trav­el­ing the world with her col­lec­tions and bring­ing back a trove of ex­otic in­flu­ences.

The house had un­der­gone a re­nais­sance in 2008 un­der the di­rec­tion of its then new owner Henri Se­baoun and for­mer artis­tic di­rec­tor Guil­laume Henry, who po­si­tioned Car­ven as a con­tem­po­rary brand.

Af­ter Henry moved to Nina Ricci, Car­ven ini­tially named Alexis Mar­tial and Adrien Cail­lau­daud as artis­tic di­rec­tors for the women's col­lec­tions, and Barn­abé Hardy for men's. Car­ven then sold a ma­jor­ity stake to Hong Kong-based Blue­bell Group in 2016 and sus­pended the men's line that year.

Ruffieux took the cre­ative helm in

2017. The de­signer hailed from So­nia Rykiel and Chris­tian Dior, where he briefly served as co-artis­tic di­rec­tor with Lu­cie Meier. Draw­ing on the 250-piece­s­trong ar­chive owned by Paris' Gal­liera fash­ion mu­seum for in­spi­ra­tion, Ruffieux of­fered fresh cuts with a mix of bo­hemian and bour­geois ref­er­ences in his first col­lec­tions for the house.

But the planned re­vival was cut short as Car­ven and its par­ent com­pany,

So­ciété Béranger, filed for bank­ruptcy in spring. The house, which had al­ready been strug­gling fi­nan­cially, was hit with pro­duc­tion de­lays and had to can­cel or­ders, cost­ing it sev­eral mil­lion eu­ros. The com­pany counted eight share­hold­ers, in­clud­ing Blue­bell, Turenne Cap­i­tal and Se­baoun.

Serge Ruffieux

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