The designer behind one of fashion’s most iconic modern dresses once worn by Meghan Markle and Victoria Beckham has placed his luxury fashion house into administration.
Roland Mouret, 60, designer of the ‘Mouret Galaxy dress’ and a close personal friend of the Duchess of Sussex, has today come crashing back down to earth after closing his flagship Mayfair store in London and calling in creditors.
The form-fitting Galaxy dress with a square neckline was seen on Hollywood A-listers including Beyonce, Victoria Beckham, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry.
The much-coveted garment also made waves within the royal family, with Meghan Markle pictured wearing the designer’s frocks in the past.
But now the luxury brand’s 84 devastated employees have been left without jobs – with the company telling shocked staff that coronavirus was to blame for the firm’s rapid fall from grace.
As administrators and removal workers were pictured inside the Mayfair store on Thursday, one worker admitted that the shutdown had come ‘super abruptly’.
Designer Roland Mouret, 60, has placed his luxury fashion house into administration. He is pictured above with Meghan Markle in Toronto in 2016
Roland Mouret has closed his flagship Mayfair store in London (pictured) and called in the creditors
The much-coveted garment also made waves within the royal family, with Meghan Markle being pictured wearing the designer’s frocks in the past
The Roland Mouret Galaxy dress became fashion’s hottest ‘must have’ item after it was introduced in 2005.
Initially retailing at £990, it sold out at Harvey Nichols with a waiting list stretching back months.
The secret to its shape lay in the thick, elasticised mesh underlay, made from a material called Powerflex that was used in corsets in the 1950s.
It pulled in the waist, pushed up the bosom and elevated the bottom. Another part of its genius was the famous origami draped shoulders, which made it an instant icon within fashion circles across the globe.
Carol Vorderman once said of the iconic dress: ‘The Galaxy saw my curves and instead of having to hide them, this dress made me feel beautiful. It still hangs in my wardrobe.’
And as the suave French-born Mouret, who lives in Suffolk, said: ‘When I design a dress for a woman, I also think of the man who is going to take it off her.’
Its roaring success spawned thousands of copy cat imitations, with Topshop selling up to 5,000 Galaxy-style dresses a week at one stage.
But it seems not even the loyalty of famous customers including the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex has been able to save Mouret from the financial consequences of the pandemic.
Only administrators and removal men were inside the Mayfair store on Thursday as pieces of exquisite, expensive furniture were being moved out.
Pieces included large plants, a chess table, and even a statue of a black bear.
In an interview with the Financial Times earlier this year, Mouret claimed he would be the industry’s ‘last man standing’ after competitors collapsed during the pandemic.
The label previously survived fears of bankruptcy in 2010. The designer generated sales of £16million in 2019, but made a profit of just £950,000.
One former staffer, who declined to be named, explained: ‘Yesterday was a very emotional day for everyone. Roland Mouret is a family. We were all very emotional.
‘It happened yesterday. We were told in person, which was nice, but very painful to hear.
‘It’s a sad, sad story because it was lovely working here so people are very crushed.
‘We knew it might be coming because of the coronavirus. It’s nothing else but that.
‘We basically lost 95 per cent of the customers and revenue went down.’
Victoria Beckham wearing the Galaxy in 2007, two years after the iconic dress made its debut
Halle Berry wearing the flattering design in 2012. The secret to its seductive shape lay in the thick, elasticised mesh underlay, made from a material called Powerflex that was used in corsets in the 1950s
The woman added: ‘There will probably be a new owner of the company as it has gone into administration.
‘We don’t know when because everything has been done super abruptly.
‘It’s difficult. Roland is a very lovely person. It’s probably not the end of the name.
‘It’s not really clear whether they’re looking for a new owner at the moment. The management, the senior managers, they probably know some things but they’ll not tell us.’
Another ex-staffer, who also declined to be named, said: ‘I can’t speak about it – it’s been very difficult.’
In an interview with the Financial Times just in September where he announced a launch of activewear, Mr Mouret blamed the coronavirus and said sales had initially plummeted by 80 per cent due to the pandemic.
‘We lost 20 years in one day,’ he said. ‘I think it will take us five years [to fully recover].’