Split Seams

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

(On the Runway)

So Peter Copping has officially left Nina Ricci — the company announced his departure Thursday, thanking him for his contribution though not explaining why the move — thus confirming what may have been the most widely accepted-as-gospel leaving rumor in fashion history and capping off what may also have been the farewell-heaviest, most rumor-bound Paris season in recent memory.

Aside from Copping’s departure from Ricci after five years (widely understood as being prompted by a job offer from Oscar de la Renta in the United States), Guillaume Henry also officially departed Carven after his show, likewise confirming rumors that he was about to go. The second part of that equation, though — that he is going to Ricci to replace Copping — still is not official; the Ricci folks said in their announcement merely that they would name a new creative director “soon.” As for Carven, it has not yet signed a replacement for Henry.

Meanwhile, Christophe Lemaire held his last show as the artistic director of Hermès (he was going to concentrate on his own line, the company said in July, and will be replaced by Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski). And Jean Paul Gaultier famously had his last ready-to-wear show. Both events were held to notably appreciative applause, as if in acknowledgment, at the very least, of the years of service each man gave. Who says fashion can’t support its own? Especially when it’s the last time you have to do so?

Still, that’s four departures in eight days. That’s a lot.

A conspiracy theorist could read economic gloom in them-there tea leaves (often designers leave, or are asked to, when labels are not doing well, and management thinks a new direction is needed), but this season it appears to be more benign coincidence than industry trend.

It seems Copping resigned because of another, presumably better, offer or at least a new challenge; ditto, Henry. Gaultier had had enough of the ready-to-wear hamster wheel, according to his personal statement, and Lemaire — well, it’s unclear what was going on there. Perhaps it was just a new chief executive who wanted a change; perhaps Lemaire did want to be a one-brand man. Either way, fair enough.

More interesting, thus, is to consider the timing of the announcements, which reveal a divide in fashion-world philosophy between brands that think it’s a good idea to let everyone know before the collections that they are witnessing a last hurrah (it’s cleaner, no question, and potentially casts a collectible aura around the products when they go on sale), and those that want to hold onto the news until after a show, because they are concerned about being seen to be in limbo — somewhere between the aesthetic that was and the one that will be.

Personally, I come down in favor of the former strategy, at the very least to stop this out-of-control rumor mill, which makes the real news seem ridiculously anticlimactic. But I can appreciate both sides.

You know what all this means for next season?

New blood! Let the dominoes begin to fall.