About three minutes ago my jaw hit the floor: as announced today, Luella is to cease trading.
A designer with one of the most original, creative and, to quote Simon Cowell, 'relevant' design styles in the business, the brand has fallen victim to that damn recession. VSQ, Luella's main financial backers, stated that they simply could no longer "invest in the relationship". This statement, released on Tuesday, comes the month after the factory that produce her ready to wear collections closed, meaning S/S 10 orders will remain unfilfilled. The crumble will come as a shock to many a fashionista, who are used to seeing Luella's quirky creations on anyone who's anyone in the Fash Pack: Alexa Chung, Lily Allen and Jaime Winstone to name but a few. With so many fans, and just seven weeks after massive praise for her fifties inspired S/S 10 collection, the move by VSQ to pull out of the brand serves as another reminder of how serious the economic downturn is for the fashion world.
The designer, who holds the title of last years Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, was all smiles at the launch of Liberty's Christmas windows last night. A sign of true professionalism to the bitter end, she did not allude to the huge announcement that was to be made today. Luella is quoted as being "very disappointed" and "upset", but the former fashion journalist leaves her dedicated followers with hope: after praising her team and VSQ for their five years of support, Ms Bartley assured us "I love the Luella character and hope that after we have survived this challenging time, the Luella girl can have an exciting future ahead of her, whichever incarnation she takes on next". One can only hope.
Luella was one of London's leading lights; I hope she comes back with higher heels, bolder lips and a strut that shows everyone the Luella girl is back in town.