Crisis Shutters Fashion Prodigy's U.S. Shops

Kira Plastinina, a 16-year-old Russian fashion designer whose father says he spent $80 million setting up stores under her name, will close almost all of her 12 U.S. outlets after less than a year as demand slumps.

"The number of shoppers in the U.S. fell significantly," said Sergei Plastinin, Kira's father, the food entrepreneur who co-founded Wimm-Bill-Dann. "It also became much harder to find money for investment because of the financial crisis. We had enormous plans: New York, then India and China in 2009."

Plastinina told New York magazine in May that her dad offered to turn her notebook dress-sketching hobby into actual clothes sold by her own retail chain when she was 14. The high-school student appears in the brand's advertising and has been photographed with U.S. heiress Paris Hilton. The company will focus on its 70 stores in Russia as U.S. retailers mark down inventory to cope with the recession.

"We have to live through the crisis and see what happens next before making any decisions," Plastinin, 40, said Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the chain said the teenager's father speaks to business reporters, while Plastinina only gives interviews to the fashion press.

The first U.S. Kira Plastinina outlet opened in Manhattan in May and the chain had 12 stores in the New York and Los Angeles areas, with another two ready to open. The designer will keep one or two U.S. outlets and close most of the rest by the end of 2008, Plastinin said. Besides Russia, there are 10 outlets in Ukraine and five in Kazakhstan.