Bill Blass Fires Design Staff, Cancels Runway Show

Well, this is bizarre: Bill Blass Limited has apparently cancelled its September runway show and dismissed its entire women’s design staff without so much as an ounce of explanation.

WWD reports that president Scott Patti told the staff on Thursday that they were “free to go” without a mention of severance packages, not long after he informed head designer Jeffrey Monteiro that the spring 2013 collection would no longer be going forward.

This seems awfully unceremonious, especially since the company had apparently already paid a stylist, secured a location, hired a PR team, and finished work on 90 percent of the collection. Furthermore, Monteiro was inducted into the CFDA less than two months ago, so it seems unlikely this was a matter of unsatisfactory design work. An insider did, however, admit to seeing signs of trouble in the months leading to last week’s announcement. According to WWD:

“A few months ago, rather than invest in buying more fabric to fulfill orders, the company opted to work with what was already in house and to only produce the styles that were being made for Lord & Taylor, the former worker said. As a result, a number of stores decided to cancel their orders. In addition, an outside consultant was hired in May to review the business.”

Still, the abrupt dismissals seem like an unlikely way to instill confidence in a brand that has been plagued with instability for the past decade. As the TimesEric Wilson reports, Monteiro is the fifth designer to leave the brand under similarly unpleasant circumstances, and the constant uncertainty, “has chipped away at the prestige of Bill Blass to the point that few high-end retailers have been willing to touch it.”

Between this and Halston, things certainly aren’t looking good for the fate of America’s former fashion titans.


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