In an all too familiar tale another Aussie designer has entered into liquidation for allegedly failing to pay tax bills and employee superannuation. Johanna Johnston once dressed Hollywood royalty and had her gowns on the backs of Christina Hendricks, Madonna and Chrissie Teigan at the height of her ‘it girl designer’ status.
And then somehow it all went wrong to the tune of an alleged $AUD1.1million. But even more interestingly Ms Johnson does not seem to understand the whole concept of liquidation and in an extraordinary move has registered a new company using an almost identical trading name ‘Johanna Johnson the Label’ to recommence business only days after the liquidators were appointed. Ms Johnson has been been using social media to make promises to women who paid ‘up front’ for frocks – predominantly in the bridal sphere – that such frocks will be delivered before their big days. However, she does seem to have missed the memo that her prior business and any of its assets including fabrics, patterns and equipment, are now under the control of the company’s liquidators. In simple terms, the money paid for the gowns is money of the old company to be distributed evenly amongst all creditors including the Australian Taxation Office and former employees of the company.
The idea that the new company would deliver dresses can only be premised on Ms Johnson causing her new business to start and construct all dresses for free. Now that brings a tricky little quandary for the directors of the new company, who it should be noted are not Ms Johnson but rather her sister and husband, as to how constructing a number of dresses for clients of another corporate entity for free could in any way be in the interests of the new company. But that is possibly an issue lost on our new directors who are clearly stepping in to help Ms Johnson out of a tight spot. But an even greater question needs to be asked of Ms Johnson, if she is able to effectively start afresh with the new company how is it that she is unable to pay the debts that caused Justice Brereton of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to order that the company be placed into liquidation?
In the ordinary course of a winding up the liquidators will be at pains to ensure that Ms Johnson has done nothing to prejudice creditors and will attempt to get the best return for creditors as possible. However, that is little solace for the brides to be that may be sans dress for their great day.