A fashion designer is a creative entrepreneur with a powerful will and vision that can ultimately result in dazzling success. But what happens when this talented individual is gone? If no successor has been named the search for a replacement can be a harrowing ordeal.
The Disappearance of Bill Blass
He was an innovator who started his business in 1970 and through wit and the sheer force of his talent brought designers – who traditionally worked in obscurity – out of the backroom.
Known as the “Noel Coward” of fashion, he built his company up to $500 million in annual sales and 40 licenses by the 1990s. However, when he had to retire because of illness, there was no designated heir. The company went through four designers in a relatively short period of time before it was dismantled.
The Rise of Sarah Jane Burton
Shortly after 40-year-old Alexander McQueen died suddenly in February 2010, the owners of his company (Gucci) moved quickly to make Sarah Jane Burton the new creative head. Her exceptional talent and 18 years with McQueen meant that she was the perfect person to take control of the label and move the brand forward.
In less than a year she presented her first collection for the company. Moving right along, Burton designed Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress for her marriage to Prince William and also the controversial “Maid of Honor” dress for her sister, Pippa. This white, figure-hugging number sparked the nickname, “Her Royal Hotness.”
Pippa Middleton “Her Royal Hotness”
At this point in Burton’s career, it would seem that her business acumen is almost as strong as her immense design talent. The fashion world can breathe a sigh of relief as this exciting enterprise goes into the future.
The Spectacular Success of Karl Lagerfeld
In the early 1980s Lagerfeld brought Chanel back to life with a revamped ready-to-wear lineup. He also launched his own label in 1984 and built it around what he describes as, “intellectual sexiness.”
Lagerfeld is astoundingly creative – with an amazing lust for life. In addition to fashion, he has successfully entered the worlds of film and photography. He has also created a line called Monster Choupette that was inspired by his adorable, blue-eyed kitten and includes a witty collection of key rings, purses, shoes, bags and clothing. He says, “What I enjoy most is doing something I’ve never done before.”
Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
With the genius of Lagerfeld at the helm, Chanel has pioneered a new era of showmanship that starts at the top and filters down into its 189 boutiques around the world.
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