how could this happen?!

I read with some surprise that Narciso Rodriguez, the man who makes minimalism not look like a yawn, was in financial trouble, and has just been bailed out by Liz Claiborne for US$12 million.

It makes it all the more amazing that he was able to put out some pretty gorgeous stuff, with all the stress he must have been facing. According to the NYT article, he owed suppliers more than US$1 million last October.

Mr Rodriguez was lucky enough to have a sizable Rolodex - he called Donna Karan, Jessica Seinfeld, Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren for advice. Ms Karan gave him some cashmere, and put him in touch with a high-powered investment banker who worked with him and hammered out his deals for free. Ms Wintour suggested that he meet executives at Liz Claiborne, which I supposed helped lay the seeds for the deal today.

I was a bit surprised that some people would consider this selling out (was reading the comments on Cathy Horyn's blog on NYT). This sort of criticism is in the same grain of those people who sneer at designers who do lines for mass-market retailers like Target and H&M.

Ignoring what designers claim about being able to reach a wider audience, such lines are valuable business opportunities for them. Stella McCartney wasn't doing so well financially until she did that line for H&M. Imagine what the Suits at the Gucci Group might have done if she hadn't done what she did.

Not everyone has the business smarts oe fortune to stay financially independent successful. All anyone can hope for is that this doesn't turn out like another Jil Sander-vs-Prada saga. I think Liz Claiborne got a bargain price for Narciso Rodriguez - everyone loves what he does, and he is one of the few doing it so well - his take on simplicity never looks tired or deriative.

Bottom line is, I'd rather see Mr Rodriguez go on a little longer than see him take a final bow too soon.

Picture from


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