Lisa Ho mulls Myer comeback

Australian designer and fashion icon Lisa Ho. Photo: James AlcockFashion designer Lisa Ho, known for her silk and satin evening wear and cocktail dresses, is turning her sights to the casual wear market as part of a deal with Myer.

Ms Ho, whose private company collapsed last year with debts of almost $20 million, is in talks with Myer to join its stable of ­”exclusive brands”, which includes the likes of designers Leona Edmiston and Toni Maticevski.

Talks are afoot but it’s believed Ms Ho – who once enjoyed a cult ­following among international ­celebrities – would put her name to a “diffusion” range of work and casual wear, including dresses, skirts and shirts in easy to wear prints.

These products would sell at lower prices than Ms Ho’s evening wear, which once fetched five-digit prices.

Myer chief Bernie Brookes is believed to have been in talks with Ms Ho for several months and is keen to do a deal soon so the new range is ready for the spring/summer season, which kicks off in August.

It is understood the new range would sell in Myer stores, rather than stand-alone shops. Ms Ho previously had concession stores in David Jones and stand-alone stores in locations such as Paddington’s Oxford Street and Melbourne’s Chapel Street.

Myer was one of 20 parties that initially expressed interest in Lisa Ho when the company went into voluntary administration in May last year.

However, Lisa Ho’s accounts were in such bad shape that none of the potential buyers were prepared to make an offer.

Ms Ho’s administrators, HLB Mann Judd, have since been selling stock on clearance sites such as GraysOnline, and Ms Ho, who was one of the company’s biggest creditors, has been forced to sell personal assets.

Myer has outlaid at least ­$70 million over the past few years buying brands such as Trent Nathan, Jack & Milly and Bauhaus to build a range of private label or exclusive brands, which now account for 20 per cent of sales. Lisa Ho would help fill a gap in Myer’s portfolio.