>> INSIDER WIRE —It seems like Bill Blass's new owners aren't in as much of a rush to get back in the game as they initially appeared to be. When Richard Chai's name was tossed around for the head job back in March, owner Peacock Holdings said they would announced the new creative director within a month, but months later, still only a "we're talking to people, but there's nothing I can divulge" response to inquiries. A Spring 2010 show in September is becoming less and less likely . . . although the official word is: "We're still figuring things out, so we'll keep you updated." [FWD]
Between losing Peter Som and its couture business, the house of Bill Blass endured major drama last year — but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The latest news indicates that Alexander Wang, our favorite designer in '08, has dropped his namesake line to be the new creative director at Bill Blass. Sources revealed Som — pictured left with Wang — was in uproar when he heard the news describing Wang as, "A backstabbing friend who would do anything for the right amount of money." Yikes!
For more heart-pounding details, read more
Christian Dior is skipping the big Resort runway show this year, and it looks like others will follow in their footsteps.
Richard Chai is rumored to be the next creative director at Bill Blass with the official announcement coming in about a month.
>> Last we heard, Bill Blass was sold after Peter Som left and the new owners Peacock International Holdings filed bankruptcy, with eventual plans to start the line back up. Then, last week, the search for a new creative director was revealed to be on, with plans to relaunch later this year.
Several industry sources are now indicating that Richard Chai may be the man to take over — he is supposedly in talks with Peacock. "I'm afraid we can't comment at the moment," was a Chai spokesperson's response to the rumors, and Peacock's executive vice president of licensing and sales also declined to give any information: "We can't comment on who we're interviewing for the position." He did, however, confirm that the new creative director would be announced in a month or so.
Chai definitely has the right look for the brand — modern American sportswear — plus the support of retailers and editors, particularly Anna Wintour, so it won't be a surprise if he's chosen for the job.
WWD looks back on 16 years in the tents at Bryant Park: Red Bull, celebrities, Coutorture and all!
Prabal Gurung, former designer director at Bill Blass, is showing his own self-funded Fall 2009 collection at Fashion Week.
>> He filled in as chief designer at Bill Blass for the Spring 2008 season before Peter Som took over, and was set to produce the Fall 2009 Blass collection after Som left until things with the label fell apart. Now former Blass design director Prabal Gurung is striking out on his own with a signature label for Fall 2009, his first show kicking off Fashion Week Feb. 12. And judging by the pre-show coverage — WWD, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Fashion Week Daily — he'll do just fine, even in a recession.
Working out of his makeshift showroom — an on-loan studio apartment that belongs to an editor friend — Gurung, who has been selling made-to-measure to private clients for a few years, is putting the finishing touches on his self-funded, twenty-look collection, which he says is all about "well-made clothes": "At Bill Blass, I learned the way clothes are supposed to be made — there are no shortcuts. Just well-finished clothes. That’s the kind of approach I’m taking — it’s not about being trendy."
It helps that he already has the industry support — "It’s been very emotional, the amount of support I’ve gotten, without asking" — and scoring coveted casting agent James Scully and T Magazine and former British Vogue stylist Tiina Laakkonen to cast and style the show, respectively, won't hurt. Now it's all about bringing that sketch of four of his Fall 2009 looks to life — we'll be watching.
>> There was a little confusion yesterday over how new Bill Blass owner Peacock International Holdings was going to resurrect the Bill Blass Couture line as planned, since they didn't purchase the Couture line as part of their deal.
As Scott Patti, Peacock's executive vice president of licensing and sales explains, the company chose not to purchase the couture line because "it wasn't healthy." Peacock did, however, buy the right to use the Bill Blass name for any future couture and ready-to-wear lines. The bankruptcy filed yesterday was just to clear the way for the new ready-to-wear line, which is still expected to be in place within the year.
>> Last week it seemed like NexCen had finally gotten Bill Blass sent off in a neat, tidy package all tied up with a bow; new owner Peacock International Holdings even vowed to revive the couture line within the year, new designer and all.
Only problem is, things weren't quite as perfect as they seemed: Bill Blass Couture wasn't part of Peacock's purchase, so we may not be seeing it again anytime soon. Instead, Bill Blass Ltd., which manufactures the couture line, filed for bankruptcy liquidation on Dec. 31, with assets listed at $192,000, and debts of $829,000 — they're to the point of selling the office furniture from the showroom.
What's most confusing about all this is why Peacock appeared to think they were getting the couture line as part of their purchase agreement last week when they talked to The Wall Street Journal . . . did something fall through?
>> Bill Blass has had a long, bumpy history since its namesake designer left in 1999, the latest setback coming two weeks ago when owners NexCen closed the brand entirely, laying off 60 employees — some of which had been with the label for almost 40 years — with no severance.
After months of trying to sell the brand to no avail, NexCen has finally found a buyer for Blass — midtier apparel manufacturer Peacock International Holdings, who nabbed the great American sportswear label for a steal — $10 million, compared to the $25 million NexCen was looking for in September.
Although few expected Peacock to revive the Bill Blass Couture line that Peter Som left in October with no successor and for which NexCen declined to produce a Spring 2009 collection, the new owner has plans to bring the ready-to-wear back "within nine to 12 months." Peacock already has some designers in mind to restart the collection but won't name names, noting that they will be choosing carefully: "You need somebody with a vision that really ties in to the Bill Blass DNA — and you need consistency, someone who will be in place beyond a year or two."