“In the filing, the company said it started exploring strategic alternatives including a sale in January. The following month, it enlisted the help of Morpheus Capital and Advisors LLC to help it find new equity investors or sell the company, the filing said.
Morpheus reached out to 22 potential buyers and investors. The company was in the final stages of a deal to sell its assets earlier this month when the would-be buyer “abruptly” backed out of the deal, according to papers the company filed with the court. Negotiations with other potential purchasers failed to result in a deal, and the company decided to file Chapter 11 to sell itself to either a buyer that would keep it operating or liquidate its assets.
Ms. Johnson was known for her over-the-top personality, designing clothes with bright neon colors and ending her runway shows by turning cartwheels.
She founded her label in 1978 with former model Chantal Bacon. The brand has since become known for flamboyant fashion shows featuring punk-rock looks, mini dresses, and at times even doubloon-tossing pirates and Playboy Playmates.
The company had outlined plans to have 100 stores in 22 states by 2012.
In 2010, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Bacon sold a stake in the business to Boston-based private equity firm Castanea Partners. Steven Madden came into the picture that same year after the company breached loan covenants and was forced to restructure its debt. Steven Madden holds a 10% stake in the company and owns its intellectual property, and Castanea holds the remaining 90% stake.”