Just when you thought things were getting better at BillBlass, well, they aren't. Yesterday WWD confirmed that the brand dismissed women's designer Jeffrey Monteiro this month along with his nine-person design team.
A former Blass employee told the title that president Scott Patti told staffers that the S/S13 show will not go ahead next month as planned shortly before handing out pink forms, telling employees that they were 'free to go'. According to the source, no explanation was made nor were there any talks about a redundancy package.
The news isn't a complete surprise. The brand have had their fair share of problems in the past. If you cast your mind back to 2008, you'll remember the 60-plus employees that they laid off without severance after their former owner announced that he wouldn't be able to fund them in the way he had planned. Even after being bought by Peacock Holdings shortly afterwards, the brands was forced to file for bankruptcy and more recently were forced to used fabrics that they already had rather than investing in more.
He might be relatively unknown on the fashion scene, but since the Bill Blass saga erupted back in 2008 Jeffrey Monteiro's debut for the troublesome company, which takes place next week has become a highly anticipated event. The financially troubled company appointed Monteiro as design director at the end of last year following the departure of Peter Som, and since then the brand has been fairly quiet.
Although his name might not be a familiar one in New York City, Monteiro launched his eponymous label in 1996, has headed the design direction at Derek Lam, Tods and the now folded Mayle, and has seen his Jeffrey Monteiro collection gather a solid but quiet following, after being picked up by Barney's, Castor & Pollux and Williamsburg's Jumelle. Fans of his eponymous line needn't worry, though - Monteiro revealed he is "working to further expand the Jeffrey Monteiro brand by experimenting more with knitwear, footwear and accessories". His debut for Bill Blass will take place in a presentation at the house's showroom on Thursday, 10 June where he will reveal the Resort 2011 collection.
Proving many speculations correct, Jeffrey Monteiro has been announced as the new design director at Bill Blass. After being selected from more than 100 applicants, Monteiro - who has has stints at Jane Mayle and Derek Lam, as well as an eponymous label - will start in January with the aim of bringing Bill Blass back with a high-end collection for Winter 2010.
Bill Blass Group President Scott Patti explained that Monteiro, who is the fifth designer to take over the label since Bill Blass retired in 1999, was chosen for his likeness to the founder. "He's very low key and realistic," Patti said. "Bill Blass designed real clothes, and that's what Jeffrey does as well." Meanwhile, Monteiro told the New York Times of his anticipation to get started on the brand, saying that "the challenge is to take something that has such weight and nostalgia and make it modern and fresh."
The New York Times has revealed that Jeffrey Monteiro is to take over the reins as creative director of Bill Blass. The news could not have come a moment sooner for the label who's future has been held in balance since Peter Som's unpredicted exit in October 2008, following in the footsteps of Lars Nilsson who held the role between 2001 to 2004.
The eponymous label was founded in 1970 by the late Mr Blass, who ran it quite successfully up until 1999, when he retired. He offered luxe and elegant sportswear and clothing, in a plethora of textures, so sumptuous that they had the ability to effortlessly take an outfit from day to night. With an extensive product line consisting of fragrances, home ware, handbags, shoes and couture pieces, Blass built an empire he would have expected and hoped, would have gone from strength to strength following his departure. This was not to be the case, and in November 2008 the fashion house filed for bankruptcy.
After leaving Bill Blass, is Peter Som headed to Tommy Hilfiger? Maybe, although details are pretty cloudy now. Hilfiger reportedly is it talks with the designer to bring him on as a part-time creative consultant. TH has been looking for a creative director since 2007, according to WWD.
Som left Blass, where he served as women's wear creative director, last year - and also cut ties with his then-backer, a Lord & Taylor subsidiary called Creative Design Studios. Currently, he has a licensing deal with Milan clothing manufacturer Margon and ADC, a New York-based multiline showroom.
Bill Blass has not been without its fair share of drama and changes. Last year, after a declaration of bankruptcy, Peter Som left the house and it was taken over by Peacock Holdings.
In March, rumours surfaced that Richard Chai was set to take the big position of creative director for the house. However, Peacock Holdings have been quiet over the past few months and have been reluctant to reveal who will definitely get the job. "We're talking to people, but there's nothing I can divulge," Peacock executive Scott Patti tells The Cut. Keeping up?
With all that said, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the brand will produce a show this September.
Sometimes, you have your problems. As in, if you're a fashion brand like Bill Blass, your head designer (Peter Som) might leave, and your new owners (Peacock International Holdings) might file bankruptcy. It's The Recession, people!
But don't count Bill Blass out. The company is reportedly in talks with designer Richard Chai, who could potentially help bring the line back to the runway. A final decision is expected in about a month.