NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The tragic and untimely death of globally renowned clothing designer L'Wren Scott shook the fashion world. Scott, a long-time partner of The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, was known for her high quality standards and elegant designs, and designed wares that were worn by First Lady Michelle Obama and countless Hollywood stars.
Clearly, Scott was the face of her company, a talented artist that saw the world in a different light, and brought that differentiation to life in her jaw-dropping designs. However, Scott's passing does bring up one very important thing pertaining to any globally renowned fashion house: succession. Who takes over the reins from the creative visionary and founder that is helping to drive the financial statements?
I found two examples where this question is most pressing:
At age 74, Ralph Lauren is the chairman, CEO and director of the company he founded in 1967 and took public in 1997. Lauren is actively designing and appearing on runaways. But, there has been no outward guidance to investors on a successor at Ralph Lauren (RL). To get a feel for what the loss of Mr. Lauren would mean, look no further than the annual report - the top risk presented to investors is the loss of Mr. Lauren's services.
In fact, here is the section from the annual report of most interest:
"Mr. Ralph Lauren's leadership in the design, marketing, and operational areas of our business has been a critical element of our success since the inception of our Company. Mr. Lauren is instrumental to, and closely identified with, our brand that bears his name. Our ability to maintain our brand image and leverage the goodwill associated with Mr. Lauren's name may be damaged if we were to lose his services.