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Jul 7, 2009
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Models, "petites mains" in tears after last Lacroix show

Jul 7, 2009

PARIS, July 7, 2009 (AFP) - Christian Lacroix sank to his knees, surrounded by his models in funereal black and his bride in gold lace, overcome with emotion at the end of his haute couture show on Tuesday 7 July, which could very well be his last.

French designer Christian Lacroix talks with models backstage during 2009/2010 Autumn-Winter Haute Couture collection show - Photo: AFP/Pierre Verdy

"It's heartbreaking to see all these pretty girls in tears," he confessed, after embracing many of the 280 guests, who gave him a standing ovation, and all the "petites mains" who slaved behind the scenes on the collection.

Since his house went into administration last month, and no white knight has yet come forward, it could close its doors by the end of July with nearly all its employees losing their jobs.

Half an hour before the collection went out on the catwalk, rich customers were arriving to take their seats in the salons of the Musee des Art Decoratifs in a state of incredulity.

"It's horrible, it's so unfair. I am depressed, I can't believe it is over," American customer Gillian Fuller said.

Fellow American, the best-selling author Danielle Steel, sitting between her two daughters, said Lacroix was "such a historic talent that he absolutely must not be lost. His dresses are works of art. Even if you don't buy them, just to see them is extraordinary."

Backstage, the atelier staff were milling round the models, all with long faces, even if none of them really wanted to believe that the adventure could end there.

Many of them have been with the house since its creation in 1987, like Barbara, who celebrated her 40th birthday on Monday 6 July and still hopes she will celebrate others with Lacroix.

Or Nadia, "who worked until the very last moment in such a state of stress it wore us out." Or 23-year-old Pauline, who has loved couture since she was a little girl. At Lacroix for only 18 months, she would "have loved to have had a bit more time to learn more".

The embroidery, shoes and flowers in the collection were all donated and the models gave their services for free.

Former top model Ines de la Fressange, who today works for the luxury shoemaker Roger Vivier, which provided the models' footwear, said "Everybody in the fashion world feels very concerned. Lacroix was the first to make haute couture popular again. Thirty years ago it was a big stuffy."

Master embroiderer Francois Lesage, 80, was reduced to tears. "In my career, he has been very close to my heart. I hope to be able to carry on serving him for a long time."

Marie Seznec, who was Lacroix' fetish model in the early years, with her distinctive white hair, tried to put a brave face on it, but her optimism felt a bit forced.

"We are all fine, very positive. Obviously, we need to be brave. I was there in 1987 and I am sure I'll still be here next season."

For Lacroix' wife Francoise, there is also no question of giving in to despair.

"In the current situation we can only be optimistic. We have had 20 years of happiness, there are people who only have a single day of happiness in their lives. Just as it got very heavy six months ago, now is the time when things will get decided, which will be a sort of relief, hope for the future."by Marie-Dominique Follain

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