Its impending relaunch will now be undertaken without Serge Ruffieux, who is leaving his role as creative director after only three seasons. He joined in February 2017, overseeing all ready-to-wear and accessories. The house did not present a collection for Spring/Summer 2019.
In a statement, Carven thanked Ruffieux for his hardwork and dedication. Meanwhile, the designer posted an image to his personal Instagram account, thanking his team and wishing the house all the best.
Carven did not respond to a request for further comment.
Despite Ruffieux’s departure, Icicle has promised to keep all other structures and employees in place as part of the reported $4.78 million deal. The acquisition of Carven was Icicle’s third large-scale international investment, aimed to accelerate the group’s global expansion and provide access to European design expertise.
Looking ahead, Icicle plans to deploy a “dual-centre strategy” between Shanghai and Paris. “We will keep the [Carven] stores and business activities in France, and already plan to open new stores in China next year,” Icicle's senior strategic director Louise Xu told BoF.
Carven, founded in 1945, has been struggling financially for years. In 2016, its Hong Kong-based distribution partner Bluebell Group took a majority stake, and in May this year, the Paris Commercial Court placed the company into receivership.
Swiss-born Ruffieux joined the label as creative director in February 2017. Prior, he was interim co-artistic director of Dior's womenswear collections with Lucie Meier, producing four collections between Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri's tenures.
According to reports, Ruffieux is among the designers being considered for the creative lead at Lanvin, France's oldest surviving couture label, which has struggled financially after switching designers. The brand had enjoyed a revival under star designer Alber Elbaz, but his surprise sacking in 2015 marked a turning point for Lanvin, which changed artistic director twice but was still having trouble with slumping sales.
In February, Chinese conglomerate Fosun purchased a controlling stake in the house. Neither Lanvin nor Fosun would disclose financial details for their transaction. The expectation, however, is that Fosun would put a minimum of €100 million (about $122 million) into the ailing house, where a new creative director has yet to be announced.
Icicle and Fosun follow a trend where Chinese firms are increasingly buying stakes in European fashion labels, as consumers in China — the world's second biggest economy — are driving a global revival in luxury goods spending.