Style Check: Nicola Formichetti
There is a rumour that Nicola Formichetti is leaving the menswear line of French fashion house Mugler. And head menswear designer Romain Kremer is apparently going with him. Sources say the studio is in disarray, and there is even talk of closing down the men's line.
Formichetti joined the brand in September 2010, changing the name from Thierry Mugler to Mugler. The industry reaction was less hysterical than for Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent name change.
The Mugler brand garnered fame in the 1980s and '90s with its strong, sexy silhouettes and booming perfume business. Formichetti's appointment renewed interest in the label.
When a brand invests so much in one person for their fame and "hip" factor, it risks a drop when that person leaves. The power balance in capturing the "cool" factor may turn against the label. Formichetti, a hugely talented stylist and creative director, is not, after all, a trained designer.
But it's a risk brands are willing to take because of fashion's obsession with fame, creating famous faces out of designers, editors, stylists and street-style characters.
Some brands, such as Sonia Rykiel (see Following the Flame, above), take a quieter route, using a relative unknown.
But for other labels, such as Kenzo, famous names work famously. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who found fame with their New York store Opening Ceremony, have breathed new life into Kenzo.
When this happens, other brands take notice. But should Lim and Leon choose to leave, Kenzo would struggle to find a new name to replace them. And look at all the rebranding at Saint Laurent Paris. What would happen should Slimane decide to go back to photography?
Whatever Mugler decides to do, people across the industry will be watching with fascination. And so they should, because this situation is likely to be repeated again and again.