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Troubled fashion label Lanvin to get a makeover

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Troubled French fashion house Lanvin is to be relaunched before the end of the year, with plans to expand into accessories and other luxury goods, the label told AFP on Tuesday.

[PARIS] Troubled French fashion house Lanvin is to be relaunched before the end of the year, with plans to expand into accessories and other luxury goods, the label told AFP on Tuesday.

The oldest Paris fashion house, which has been in turmoil since the shock sacking of popular designer Alber Elbaz two years ago, said its owner, the Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang, who will fund the turnaround with a fresh cash injection.

The news comes amid renewed speculation about the future of the label, which sank into the red to the tune of 18.3 million euros (S$28.9 million) last year, its first loss for a decade.

But its new designer Olivier Lapidus - who replaced Bouchra Jarrar in July after only 10 months at the helm - told AFP that he was helping to prepare a major shift for the brand, which was founded in 1889.

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"Madame Wang very much believes in the label," said Lapidus, who had only a month to put together his first women's collection for Paris fashion week in September.

He said he wanted to revive the venerable label's line of evening and wedding dresses without rejoining the official ranks of the Paris haute couture shows, and to expand into luxury lifestyle products and decoration, while also beefing up its accessory lines.

"We are not at all worried about paying the bills," its finance chief Nicolas Druz told AFP.

"The company has not a penny of debt. Our major shareholder has decided to put her hand in her pocket" to help relaunch the brand, he said.

'NOT ABANDONING SHIP'

"We want to bring the house into the modern era, and develop a high-tech, lifestyle 'art de vivre' side to the business," Mr Druz added, floating the idea of Lanvin-linked hotels and spas as well as an expanded accessory range.

Mr Druz paid tribute to Lapidus for the "miracle" of managing to turn around a collection "in August in France", when most of the country traditionally heads to the beaches.

The collection had a mixed reception when it hit the runways, but Lapidus said he was cheered by the warm reaction of Vogue and Elle magazines.

"It was not a very deep collection. Unfortunately we had very little time to do it in, but we have some incredibly talented people in our studios and workshops, and I will stay and support this label to the death," he said.

"I am not about to abandon ship, far from it." He said Lanvin's studio was "working very well on a much more complex new autumn-winter collection" which will hit the catwalks in February with a revived pre-collection which will only be shown to buyers.

'WANG BELIEVES IN LANVIN'

The brand said later in a statement that Mdm Wang "has always believed in Lanvin and the future of its talented teams... who will reposition the brand to the place it deserves."

There has been speculation that Lapidus, the son of Ted Lapidus, who designed for the Beatles, wanted to turn the brand "into a French Michael Kors" after the US brand whose high-end designs help sell a range of lower priced items.

But Lapidus denied he has any such plans.

"Even if there are people with hidden agendas who seek to weaken the brand with these Scud missles in the press, everything is going very well despite having to turn around our spring summer collection in record time," he said.

Lapidus, 59, a former menswear designer at Balmain and early adopter of hi-tech in the 1990s, had just created his own internet-based fashion house before the call came to replace Jarrar at Lanvin.

In March with the label announcing it was quitting its historic central Paris headquarters for the suburbs, she had hinted that she was not getting the support that she needed to turn the label around.

AFP

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