Just weeks after Alexander McQueen’s death, there are already rumors circulating about who will replace him.
Gareth Pugh is the first name to pop up, and from an aesthetic standpoint it makes sense.
The challenge of taking over an established house is that the new designer must capture the essence of the house, while still making it his own. (Good example: Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Bad example: Frida Giannini at Gucci.)
We understand where PPR is coming from. McQueen is an internationally known designer whose sales will certainly double in the year after his death. Why not capitalize on his martyrdom?
But hiring a new designer might actually lose PPR money. We can think of only one fashion house where a founder has died and the immediate successor has been successful. Yves Saint Laurent did well at Christian Dior after the namesake designer’s death in 1957, but he was an unknown–and Dior’s protege. (And that was just for one season. After YSL’s famous trapeze shape dress, his collections tanked and he was eventually fired.)
Lagerfeld was brought on at Chanel a decade after the famous designer’s death. It’s taken Halston 20 years to find the right successor in Marios Schwab. And Bill Blass is hoping that Jeffrey Monteiro is finally the right choice to lead the quintessentially American brand.
The truth is, even if the McQueen ready-to-wear label had gained financial traction over the last couple of years, there’s no way it was making PPR much of a profit. While we don’t think the conglomerate should sit on the Alexander McQueen brand altogether, it might be smart to focus on other aspects of the label for now.
Here’s what we think PPR should do:
- Keep producing Alexander McQueen accessories. These can be tweaked year-upon-year to remain relevant, yet still in McQueen’s vision.
- Keep up the collaboration with Puma. Same story.
- Keep up the McQ line. Probably the only clothing McQueen makes that actually results in a profit, this diffusion line can easily be continued without a lead designer.
- Wait five years, then bring on a hotshot to revive Alexander McQueen ready-to-wear. At this point, the world will be ready for it, and it might even make some money.