PPR, the parent company of Gucci Group, has confirmed in the last few minutes that it will continue to trade the Alexander McQueen label, following the tragic death of the designer last week.
PPR chairman and chief executive François Henri-Pinault said simply, 'You understand, the Alexander McQueen trademark will live on.'
It is not known whether the A/W show at Paris Fashion Week will proceed as normal, as the collection wasn’t finished before the designer’s death last week. It was usual for McQueen to continue creating the collection up until the last minute before the show.
Mr Henri-Pinault paid tribute to McQueen saying he was a 'pure genius' and a 'poet' whose 'art went beyond the fashion world. He had a great command of technique…he hid behind an armour of provocation.'
Fashion pundits began speculating yesterday as to the future of the label. Many cited the example of Christian Dior, who died only 10 years after setting up his label. However –this isn’t an exact precedent. Both designers were exceptional, but their styles and the circumstances of the fashion market in the two separate eras are difficult to compare. The Dior brand has not had an uninterrupted lifespan of success, high points in the hands of Yves Saint Laurent, and currently, with John Galliano at the top, were punctuated by a less celebrated tenures by Marc Bohan and then Gianfranco Ferre following Dior's death.
Surely it will be hard to replicate the level of originality and inventiveness that McQueen was able to uphold, season after season. Calvin Klein, for example, retired from designing in 2003, at the age of 63. By this point his empire was run so slickly that TWO of his assistants – Narciso Rodriguez and Francisco Costa were earmarked as possible successors. Both are now successful designers in their own right.
In the case of the Alexander McQueen brand though, despite the fame and headlines, it is still a small operation, employing 180 people. As François Henri-Pinault reiterated this morning 'fashion has lost one of its extraordinary people.' Although only the brightest sparks in fashion were invited to join his team, it seems there is not an obvious successor waiting in the wings. The vision driving the label came from only one source.