Do you think of Marie Antoinette when you hear Tamara Mellon’s name? No? Well, a trio of multimillionaires who’ve failed in their court bid to block her plans to restructure her company and bring it out of bankruptcy protection obviously do. “I’m not Marie Antoinette,” she said after winning the US court case and getting the go-ahead to relaunch the Tamara Mellon brand.
Mellon had vowed to be back in January when she filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early December. But if the legal challenge mounted by Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross, along with Lord Marland and Michael Spencer, had been successful, it would have been very different.
They’d accused her of “mismanagement and abuse”, saying she spent lavishly and had taken thousands of pounds worth of clothes for her and her daughter. They (and other investors) were obviously pretty upset after investing millions in the company and after last year’s sales reached only $8m against projections of $70m-plus.
But the judge objected to their assessment of Mellon’s business acumen and Mellon herself said they had no experience of luxury, fashion or creative industries.
So what happens now? Well, the unhappy investors will lose their money while the company is getting a new $10m investment from venture capitalist New Enterprise Associates, while Mellon will put in $2m.
It’ll be interesting to see how Mellon moves forward on the style front. Her previous output mixed some very strong apparel pieces that sold out fast, alongside some very commercial luxury footwear (which is what you’d expect from the ex-Jimmy Choo chief). But much of the apparel collection was also quite forgettable. What she needs to do now is carve out a niche for herself with a strong signature and sort out the supply chain. I’ll be watching this one with interest.