As Walter Albini returns, look back at four historic designer revivals and what happened to them

News recently broke that Bidayat, an investment vehicle connected to the Egyptian businessman Rachid Mohammed Rachid, has acquired the rights and archive of Italian fashion house Walter Albini.

Among the leading lights of Italian fashion in the 1970s, Albini stood with Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani as a decade-defining genius. However, the business shut down following the designer’s early death in 1983 and was overlooked during the frantic period of fashion empire-building that followed in the 90s and 2000s.

Speculation is swirling that Alessandro Michele, who departed his role at Gucci late last year, could be waiting in the wings to take over the revived house. It’s not an outrageous idea – Albini was defined by a spirit of adventurous bohemianism, which aligns nicely with Michele’s free-spirited gender-bending creativity.

While we wait for the dust to settle, let’s look back at four more historic labels that were revived – and what happened next.

One of Yiqing Yin’s designs for the Poiret revival.

A leading couturier of the early 1900s, Poiret came back to life when a Chinese investor purchased the defunct house’s trademark in 2015 and brought rising star Yiqing Yin on board to design. Two beautiful and well-received collections later, she departed and was never replaced – nor has Poiret ever held another fashion show. Yet the Poiret brand continues to operate as a beauty and fragrance play, which goes to show that, depending on your strategy, having a designer may turn out to be optional.

A 1938 evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet.

Madeleine Vionnet was renowned for her supremely glamorous bias-cut gowns in the 1920s and 30s. The label was revived in the early 2000s with a string of different owners and designers rotating through until 2018. For the past several years the house has been dormant – until just a few weeks ago, when news broke that Vionnet has been acquired by a new investment partnership dedicated to restoring and developing legacy European brands.

While the past attempts at reviving Vionnet were not successful, it’s safe to say the label’s archive is so full of treasures it is worth another shot.

One of Daniel Roseberry’s striking creations for Schiaparelli.

The Italian counterpart to Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli was known for her excellent tailoring – as well as her deliciously droll Surrealist jokes, like a lobster worn as a hat. After a number of false starts, the brand has roared back to life under the creative leadership of Daniel Roseberry who channels Schiaparelli’s love of the surreal into incredibly glamorous and desirable statement jewelry and accessories designs. It’s clearly not easy getting the synergy between a historic house and a contemporary designer right, but when it works the frisson is unmistakable.

A Guillaume Henry creation for Patou.

An original dandy of 1930s and 40s Paris, Jean Patou was known for creating stylish sportswear for the beautiful people of the day before diversifying into perfumes. The brand went dormant before being acquired by fashion juggernaut LVMH in 2018, which placed it in the hands of the capable young Guillaume Henry who has imbued the house with a colorful, highly feminine spirit with just the right touch of classic French aplomb.

Guillaume Henry is no stranger to the challenge of reviving a dormant brand – he first became well-known for his work at Carven, followed by a stint at Nina Ricci. In a sense, then, bringing back a house like Patou is the logical next step. For any doubters, it proves that historic brands can always be revived, it simply requires the right touch of creative genius.

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Researched and written by QVDN staff