In 2007, the Valentino Fashion Group–at that point already under Permira’s reign–bought a 45% stake (just $3.7 million) in Proenza. Given the potential of the Proenza brand, that wasn’t very much money. According to our sources, Proenza’s CEO Shirley Cook agreed to the deal under the assumption that designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough would succeed Valentino Garavani once he retired. However, Garavani’s eye was on Zac Posen for the job. In the end, neither Posen nor the Proenza boys were chosen to take over for Valentino.
The fact that Permira is so eager to sell off Proenza could mean two things: 1. The firm has made a healthy return on its investment and is ready to move on. 2. The label has proven more difficult than expected and Permira wants to rid itself of the investment while it still can.
We’d deduce that it’s the former scenario. Proenza’s leather goods line has grown exponentially over last two years and its ready-to-wear label continues to receive stunning reviews from critics and buyers alike. We’re guessing another private equity firm will invest in the still-small company, but it would be interesting to see someone like LVMH scoop this promising brand up.