Designer Bouchra Jarrar leaves French fashion house Lanvin

France-born designer Bouchra Jarrar (above) closed her own label last March to join Lanvin.
France-born designer Bouchra Jarrar (above) closed her own label last March to join Lanvin.PHOTO: NYTIMES

PARIS (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Designer Bouchra Jarrar has quit Lanvin, the troubled Paris label confirmed last Thursday, only 10 months after she showed her first collection there.

The 46-year-old closed her own label last March so she could dedicate herself to reviving France's oldest fashion house. But it soon became clear that all was not well within the house, which has been in turmoil since the shock sacking of its previous designer Alber Elbaz in 2015.

In a short statement late last Thursday, Lanvin said they had "mutually decided to put an end to their collaboration".

Elbaz had brought Lanvin, founded in 1889, back from the edge of oblivion before he fell afoul of its formidable owner, Taiwanese media magnate Wang Shaw Lan.

The label sank €18.3 million (S$28.8 million) into the red last year, its first loss for a decade.

Jarrar's two collections for the label were warmly received for their "sober elegance" by critics and, last week, she was made an officer of France's prestigious Order of Arts and Letters for her services to fashion.

But with morale low in the brand's workshop amid an exodus of talent after Elbaz's departure and rumours of further friction over budget cuts, her exit was not unexpected.

In March, Jarrar hinted that she was not getting the support she needed to turn the label around. "I want to bring my expertise, creativity, technical know-how and pragmatism" to the brand, she told the South China Morning Post. For that, "I need the whole house's support. Alone, it's impossible".

In the statement confirming her departure, she said she wished to "particularly acknowledge the work of the teams with whom I collaborated to express French creativity and know-how".

Her minimal, tailored aesthetic was a departure from Elbaz's much-loved draped eveningwear and a new direction was always going to take time to resonate with consumers in a way that came anything close to what Elbaz achieved in his 14-year tenure.

"That personal connection that Alber fostered between the brand and the audiences was deep," said Ms Caroline Issa, chief executive and fashion director of Tank magazine, in a September interview with the Business of Fashion portal.

France-born Jarrar, whose parents come from Morocco, started designing early, having learnt to sew from her father.

She spent a decade at Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquiere before becoming head of haute couture at Christian Lacroix, building up a loyal following for her minimalist and quintessentially French chic look of sharply cut tuxedo and leather jackets and pea coats.

Wang and Lanvin's other major shareholder, Swiss businessman Ralph Bartel, plan to recapitalise the company and relaunch the brand, reported French business magazine Challenges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Bouchra Jarrar leaves Lanvin'. Print Edition | Subscribe