Ever since new appointments have been made around the clock as routine as a run-of-the-mill dental checkup, no one really knows whose where anymore. Waight-Keller, Jarrar, Levi-Ramsay… these names have been amongst the many that have been moved around the fashion chessboard.
We might have been forewarned back in 2010 when Galliano’s Britney breakdown happened while he was at the helm of Dior. Perhaps we saw it coming, but we ignored it and chalked it up to Dior’s bad egg. But when one started to leave, they all started leaving – first there was Wang, and then there was Slimane. So on, so forth.
Whilst many have been victims to the burnout felt from the numerous raison d’êtres for leaving their respective houses, what exactly is happening to the brand? From Coco’s Chanel to Coca-cola, an exercise in branding is what differentiates the Chanel suit and a brown fizzy drink from its counterpart. Food and drinks aside, one would argue that it is the aesthetic, the notable creations that form a house’s legacy that makes or breaks a brand – such as Dior’s New Look and Balenciaga’s Sack Dress. But unlike household products that require minimal changes, a sugar-free one here and a diet one there, fashion’s timely nature requires major innovation.
And innovation is tied undoubtedly to the creator. That being said, what exactly is keeping the brand a brand… even armed with its previous signature silhouettes, these surely can’t stand the test of time. Aside from the obvious legal and fiscal advantages, is the house name just an ode to its founding fathers? In the case of the ever-changing helm of creative directors, the brand name no longer stands for much. Besides its legacy and conglomerate backed business, most everything has changed with its leader.
It’s especially evident when houses assign creative directors that are the antipode of its predecessor. Lanvin’s most recent announcement to become a ‘French Michael Kors’ set through a chain of events that will traverse Jeanne Lanvin’s and Albert Elbaz’s signature styles. We can only wait for Olivier Lapidus’ first collection at the house to make do of what the Lanvin name now holds.
When past aesthetics becomes rehashed in conversation, it has become conducive to insert name here’s insert brand here. Take for example, Tom Ford’s Gucci v. Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, Galliano’s Dior v, Simons’ Dior v. Chuiri’s Dior, Ghesquière’s Balenciaga v. Wang’s Balenciaga v. Gvasalaia’s Balenciaga… the list reads on like a court case. Given that each creative director has left their imprint on their respective houses, the brand itself doesn’t hold sway especially in the era of ironic fashionizers. Where the populous once reveled in literal branding, emblazoning logos across chest, belt and finely weaved pelts, the branded logo has become widely satirized.
Fashion brands no longer carry the familial feeling of a Heinz catsup bottle or that of cheap yet decent burgers under our favourite golden arches; instead it reads as nothing but a passed on flame, a totem of great designers once before.