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Designer loses his own label

FRENCH DESIGNER Herve Leger has been sacked from his own fashion house after just one season under new ownership. The Los Angeles-based BCBG group took control of the company six months ago promising Leger "unconditional support".

But last week the BCBG chief, Max Azria, claimed he was unable to continue working with the designer. "Buyers didn't like the image and said there was no evolution in the collection," he said.

Leger, who cut his fashion teeth working with Karl Lagerfeld and Fendi and who launched his own house 14 years ago, was distressed by the news. Speaking from his home in Paris yesterday, he said: "In just six months it turned into a nightmare."

Leger said that budgets were cut and that when he refused to co-operate he was asked to leave. "They think they can own the world and they wanted to get rid of me from the beginning."

He added, however, that he intended to "fight legally to win back my name to design under".

Leger came to fame in the mid-Eighties with his body sculpted "bandage" dresses, worn by the model Iman, and Serena Stanhope, now married to Viscount Linley. He also dressed the actress Nicole Kidman for her role in the film Batman Forever.

Leger's style encapsulated a time that revelled in overt glamour. Today, understated minimalism is all-pervasive.

"Women are fickle and fashion is ever-changing," said Joan Burstein, owner of Browns, a designer emporium in London. "Leger had become somewhat repetitive."

Leger himself insists this is not the case: "The company is right on track," he said. If last month's fragrance launch in Paris is anything to go by, he is right. Produced by Proctor & Gamble, it is the number one seller in Printemps, one of the French capital's most fashionable department stores.

"In a business where egos are essential, this sort of thing is bound to happen," said Didier Grumbach, head of the Chambre Syndicale, the organisation responsible for overseeing the fashion houses of Paris.

"It's a case of a company thinking that they were buying everything, but in fact the designer could not be bought. Herve Leger set up his own company, he is used to being in charge," Mr Grumbach said.