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She was referring, surprisingly enough, to her namesake shoe label. Just over a year ago, she and Ms. Morrison were fired from the company they had created, and now they find themselves watching from the sidelines as the retooled brand is presented at this week’s New York Shoe Expo without them.
It is a dramatic fall for the partners who, not long ago, seemed to embody every young designer’s dream. After building a cult shoe label from scratch, they found a big backer, Marc Fisher, the scion of the 9 West discount-shoe fortune, who they thought could take them to the stratosphere. But instead of turning Sigerson Morrison into the next Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo, the deal went sour. Very sour.
Not only have the women lost their company and even the right to use their names, but they have also been sued for almost $2 million by their former angel. Theirs is a story that may dissuade other young designer shoes from seeking financial saviors.
“It is definitely a cautionary tale,” said Valerie Steele, the fashion historian and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “You kind of think: ‘Gosh, didn’t you have a better lawyer? How did you sign that?’ Not just in this specific case, but in general. The problem is that most designers are creative types. They don’t have any training in finance.”
“But fashion is not only a creative field,” she added, “it’s also a business.”
THE young shoe designer shoes met in 1987 in the accessories-design program at F.I.T. Ms. Sigerson was the Midwestern chick who had hung out in the high school parking lot in her Kork-Ease sandals. Ms. Morrison was the cultured Englishwoman with a mop of curls who had studied art at Oxford and had run a gallery in London. Yet they connected right away.
They shared a studio and a philosophy and noticed “the void of shoes designed by women for women,” as Ms. Morrison put it.