Tag Archives: LVMH

Yoon joins Dior Homme: Proving Streetwear has overtaken Luxury

Ambush Designer Yoon Ahn Is Dior Homme’s New Jewelry Designer, tapped upon by Kim Jones after Kris Van Assche took a Creative role at Berluti.

Ambush Designer Yoon Ahn Is Dior Homme’s New Jewelry Designer, tapped upon by Kim Jones after Kris Van Assche took a Creative role at Berluti.

Founded by designer Yoon Ahn and her husband, AMBUSH began as hip hop inspired streetwear jewellery label known for its youthful vibrancy and rawness; Now, Yoon has been tapped by LVMH Group to head Dior Homme jewellery as the brand’s latest hautebeast designer, an announcement which follows hot on the heels of LVMH group sister brand’s appointment of Virgil Abloh as new Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton menswear.

Yoon joins Dior Homme: Proving Streetwear has overtaken Luxury

Like Abloh, the founder and designer haute streetwear label AMBUSH, beginning only with streetwear accessories and jewellery before later becoming a unisex ready-to-wear brand, yet another case-in-point for LVMH group’s embrace for hypebeast, a genre which has been a major source of disruption for the luxury industry.

1st day of work as a jewelry designer. Team @mrkimjones @Diorhomme 💪🏽‼️

A post shared by YOON (@yoon_ambush) on

Ambush Designer Yoon Ahn Is Dior Homme’s New Jewelry Designer, tapped upon by Kim Jones after Kris Van Assche took a Creative role at Berluti. Ahn, a street style icon, naturally togged in mixed up AMBUSH ensembles, in her own right, will utilise her core skills as Dior Homme’s new jewellery designer. It’s no surprise that Kim Jones sought Yoon Ahn for the role, the two had collaborated back in 2012 when Jones was lead Creative at Louis Vuitton, working with AMBUSH to create “playbutton” essentially a wearable MP3 accessory.

Presently, up to 85% of the luxury market’s new growth is driven by a generation of Ys, Zs and millennials with Bain consulting predicting that by 2025, this generation of youthful shoppers will account for 45% of global luxury spend. This may not represent the majority  but it is an influential segment given how rapidly the millennial generation is influencing consumer purchase decision making in generations beyond their own. Not only are brands specifically catering marketing communications and campaigns for them but they are also shaping consumer perceptions on what brands are cool and en vogue. 

Dapper Dan front row at Gucci RTW Spring 2018 show. Streetwear is now mainstream and the hautebeast phenomena is best exemplified by the commercial alliance between former frenemies - Gucci and Dapper Dan.

Dapper Dan front row at Gucci RTW Spring 2018 show. Streetwear is now mainstream and the hautebeast phenomena is best exemplified by the commercial alliance between former frenemies – Gucci and Dapper Dan.

As it stands, millennials consider traditional luxury brands to be “establishment” and stuffy and it has been a trans-generational perception shift which has seen brands like Louis Vuitton – Supreme make big wins and competitor brand’s like Kering Group’s Balenciaga and Gucci take market leader positions in the nascent (if not already peak) hautebeast genre of luxury designer goods.

Business of Luxury: The mainstreaming of Hype and LVMH’s response to market disruption

Streetwear is now mainstream and the hautebeast phenomena is best exemplified by the commercial alliance between former frenemies – Gucci and Dapper Dan. Once litigants in a lawsuit over Dapper Dan’s flagrant co-option of Gucci motifs into modified windbreakers and trackpants, 2017 was the year that Gucci made tacit endorsement of Dapper Dan’s preternatural zeitgeist cool and as of early 2018, Alessandro Michele made the endorsement real with the re-opening of Dapper Dan’s Harlem atelier, the tailoring shop which initially closed due to legal action, 25 years later.

Meanwhile Kering Group sister brand Balenciaga has been paving the way into the hearts of hypebaes with their early break from traditional luxury design – first with products of cultural snark – the appropriation of the East Asian “Wholesale Market Shopping bag” and then later with a high fashion interpretation of the ubiquitous IKEA shopping bag. Reflecting a streetwear-hautebeast approach, it is little wonder that Balenciaga’s top-selling products are its Triple S and Speed sneakers.

Balenciaga introduces snark on the level of Abloh's "Little Black Dress" with a high fashion interpretation of the ubiquitous IKEA shopping bag.

Balenciaga introduces snark on the level of Abloh’s “Little Black Dress” with a high fashion interpretation of the ubiquitous IKEA shopping bag.

Balenciaga’s top-selling Triple S sneakers - total hautebeast and "aged" like one.

Balenciaga’s top-selling Triple S sneakers – total hautebeast and “aged” like one.

Kim Jones has lots of street cred and with his bet of putting Louis Vuitton and Supreme together paying off big time, it is easy to see why arch-rival LVMH is looking to cued-in, street credible designers like Abloh and now, Yoon Ahn to deliver street-smart drops and fashionably relevant productions.

That said, fashion appeal isn’t the only thing encouraging streetwear’s takeover of luxury. The marketing cycle is vastly different today than it was 10 years ago. Attention is fleeting with the wide array of social media platforms and rather than conform to the traditional spring-summer, autmn-winter fashion cycles, streetwear has dominated attention with the highly viral “blink and you’ll miss me” concept of fashion “drops” – targeted releases of new products that spawn all year around, delivering timed intervals of “hype”, like a drug, disseminated by What’s App screenshots, instagram and facebook. The speed of digital media is not only changing how we shop but how the more clued-in brands are dominating the news and attention cycle with well-timed releases and hype-worthy product collaborations.

Yoon Ahn as Dior Homme jewellery designer hints to a large overhaul of LVMH Group's strategy towards menswear

Yoon Ahn as Dior Homme jewellery designer hints to a large overhaul of LVMH Group’s strategy towards menswear


That said, while hypebeast is in full-swing as LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate populates ranks of designers and creative heads with street-savvy streetwear designers, there’s the inevitable over-correction where hautebeast eventually becomes yet another fashion establishment trend and millennials depart in droves for the next “authentic expression” of self.

As it stands, Abloh as Louis Vuitton men’s Artistic Director, Jones as Dior Homme creative head and now Yoon Ahn as Dior Homme jewellery designer hints to a large overhaul of LVMH Group’s strategy towards menswear, it remains to be seen if the women’s side will be equally impacted. Considering the success of rival Gucci’s embroidered bee sneakers (a revival motif), it will not be surprising if LVMH already has plans in motion for women’s wear in its stable of brands.

Yoon Ahn’s jewellery for Dior Homme will accompany Jones’s debut collection at the Spring 2019 menswear shows in Paris in June.

Heidi Slimane Named Artistic, Creative and Image Director of Céline

French-born designer Hedi Slimane

LVMH Group announces the appointment of Hedi Slimane, who will lead Céline as the brand’s Artistic, Creative and Image Director, effective February 1, 2018. In his new role, Slimane will oversee and develop all creativity for Céline collections, including menswear, couture, leather goods, accessories and fragrances.

“I am delighted to join Bernard Arnault in this all-embracing and fascinating mission for Céline. I greatly look forward to returning to the exciting world of fashion and the dynamism of the ateliers.” – Hedi Slimane

Previously from Dior Homme (between 2000 and 2007) and Saint Laurent (between 2012 and 2016), Simane has been an exceptional designer, who built his reputation in the couture line and became widely known as one of the most influential industry thought leaders in men’s tailoring.

Bernard Arnault commented: “I am particularly happy that Hedi is back within the LVMH Group and taking the reins of our Céline Maison. He is one of the most talented designers of our time. I have been a great admirer of his work since we collaborated on Dior Homme, which he launched to global critical acclaim in the 2000s.”

Bringing his remarkable talent and ability back to LVMH group, Slimane “will leverage his global vision and unique aesthetic virtuosity in further building an iconic French Maison,” added Arnault.

Sidney Toledano added: “Hedi Slimane is an exceptional designer, complete artist and passionate about his work.  I am certain that he will bring his renowned creative energy and discipline to lead Céline to ever greater success.”

As Richemont sells Shanghai Tang, Hermes continues to back Shang Xia, Are Chinese Luxury Brands Doomed to Fail?

Back in 2013, it was reported in Wall Street Journal that Financière Richemont SA, better known as Richemont to industry insiders, decided against selling some of its struggling business units, including pen maker Montblanc, and instead will increase their investment into each of the 20 brands within their portfolio. Some, like Montblanc have become success stories with the addition of a watchmaking concern; others are still struggling to find their feet four years later and among the first to go –  Shanghai Tang.

The Richemont – Shanghai Tang’s relationship goes back close to 20 years. The Group first acquired a majority stake in 1998 before completely taking over the brand in 2008. At the time, the acquisition was considered to be strategic just when the luxury goods market started to peak in China.

A primer on Shanghai Tang

Since the early 90s, Hollywood celebrities like Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman have flirted with the Qipao or Cheongsam and perhaps, founder David Tang thought that a brand tapping into a zeitgeist of western upscale clientele would propel a brand with Chinese flourishes into critical and commercial success. Headlined by a body hugging dress of Chinoiserie design, Shanghai Tang was born in 1994, producing the iconic 1920s Shanghainese socialite uniform except that this time, it was interpreted for modern women. The formula appeared to work when in the late 90s, the era’s IT girl Kate Moss started to produce her own collaboration of Cheongsams with Topshop, coinciding with a trend of western celebrity appropriation of Chinese cultural dress.

Almost 10 years later, during a 2013 interview with Business Insider, it was reported that as the “global curator of modern Chinese aesthetics,” Shanghai Tang had managed to achieve 43% increase of global sales by 2005; fuelled by an expanded collection of not just Chinese-inspired fashion but also accessories and homewares.

Physically, Shanghai Tang operated a majority of boutiques within China (30 out of 45 stores) and at the time (2013), Asians represented 51% of the brand’s consumers with native Chinese forming the bulk while 49% went to a market of Westerners. Then, in the intervening four years, things started to go wrong…

Luxury Business Science 201: What went wrong with Shanghai Tang?

First, let’s just say that culturally, the cheongsam can be considered fairly analogous to a bespoke suit. If one were to follow the 1920s Shanghainese model, wealthy socialites would typically get measured and then fitted for a bespoke or made-to-measure qipao cheongsam. As a cultural garment, the raison d’etre of the qipao was to be as form fitting, emphasising the feminine attributes of her owner. An off-the-rack offering was possible but at those price ranges, you were could consider a bespoke version at your local and often, longtime seamstress.

Second, consider for a moment the odd cultural crossroads where you are marketing a brand to a highly nationalistic citizenry where a large number of your clientele are gwai lo 鬼佬 or lao wai 老外 and you begin to have a contradiction of cultural expectations which complicates potential brand direction.

Finally, the rise of millennials and the corresponding soft economies in which they have grown up have led to a bifurcation of expectations. On one hand, a group of millennials who do not harbour aspirations of status or pretense and the other, a group of millennials who do aspire to luxury but dollar for dollar would prefer clearly European luxury brands, as a result Shanghai Tang was placed in a confluence of increasingly tepid performance and certainly, they were not the sort of brand within the Richemont portfolio which was as easily understood like watches and jewellery (or for that matter, guns – Purdey, purses – Lancel).

For Richemont, Shanghai Tang just wasn’t a solid performer and given the different market variables, they sold the 23 year old brand to Italian fashion entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli and private equity fund Cassia Investments Ltd.

What does this mean for foreign owned Chinese Luxury Brands? Are Chinese Luxury Brands doomed?

Richemont Group is not alone in their divestiture of a chinese luxury brand. Earlier this year, LVMH dropped luxury Chinese spirit label Wenjun. For some reason, luxury conglomerates practiced at marketing brands with a depth of history and tradition appear to be finding it problematic to market brands from China, even when they have the equivalent depth of Chinese history and culture; Case in point – The Wenjun Distillery, a premium white spirit or bai jiu 白酒 maker has a heritage going back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD), that’s over 2000 years of heritage. LVMH, itself a specialist in premium liquors through Moët Hennessy decided in January to drop Wenjun Distillery, having acquired a 55% stake in 2007.

What is not immediately certain is whether Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft measures are curbing consumption of premium liquors (traditionally a deal-making lubricant in Chinese culture) to such a degree or that China’s growing wealthy upper middle class are just not consuming luxuries at a pace that LVMH had projected (similar to the millennial issue with luxury goods).

Former British accountant and now luxury analyst, Rupert Hoogewerf began studying the Chinese market by establishing Hurun Report, a luxury research unit based in Shanghai in 1999. Over the years, Hurun Report and Hoogewerf have won numerous awards for their ground-breaking lists, among them an eye opening 2017 Best of Best (BOB) top 10 list which ranked popular luxury brands for women in China – the findings? Shanghai Tang was dead last. More tellingly, it ranked nowhere for men. As for Wenjun? It was not ranked on a list of top 10 bai jiu白酒 brands either.

In this context, Richemont and LVMH’s decision to sell the underperforming Shanghai Tang and Wenjun brands appear to be backed by strong evidence that both were not performing to expectations. But does this herald the end of the European adventure into owning Chinese luxury brands? Not yet.

How Hermès differs from Richemont: Shanghai Tang vs. Shang Xia 上下

In 2008 Hermès created Shang Xia. Unlike Shanghai Tang or Wenjun, Shang Xia is a bona-fide Chinese brand in that it is developed in China and helmed with a Chinese team (no foreigner direct  it) and based on deep Chinese cultural roots and craftsmanship, that is to say, for all intents and purposes, Shang Xia is Chinese-made, Chinese-designed and Chinese-run but with capital injections from a French company. In fact,  when Hermès CEO at the time backed renowned Chinese designer Jiang Qionger to start Shang Xia, the French maison had declared that they were not only not in a rush to breakeven but had pledged an ambitious capital infusion of US$10-15 million annually. Hell, Hermès long term objectives for the brand are baked into the name itself – Shang Xia 上下 literally means to grow up strong or Shang 上 (up) by putting roots down, ergo Xia 下 (down); and in founder/designer Jiang Qionger, Hermès found all the skillsets to incubate their revolutionary concept of fine contemporary chinese craftsmanship – her creativity extends through not just fashion but also painting, graphics, jewellery and furniture – in fact, the first Chinese designer to show her collection at a Paris furniture Salon. More tellingly, when French brands invite you to design their corporate headquarters and interiors, you know that your talents are beyond reproach. Most importantly, unlike Richemont or LVMH, Hermès is not in a hurry to “maximise shareholder value” – in essence, they’re taking their time to wait for the brand to literally take root and then branch out, organically.

“Shang Xia is a cultural investment project … [At other brands] the life of the project is five years or 10 years, at Shang Xia the dream is 100 years, 200 years.” – Jiang Qionger, Shang Xia Founder/Creative Director, speaking to Financial Times

Beyond the lofty ideals espoused by the branding, Hermès and Jiang literally took their time, seeking out genuine Chinese master artisans before they even considered their first boutique in Shanghai. In fact, in the last few years, a traditional Shanghai mansion, similar in spirit to the Hermès maison in Paris Faubourg Saint Honoré has been painstakingly rebuilt and renovated to host not only Shang Xia and Hermès but also a dedicated area focused on imparting knowledge of traditional Chinese rituals (e.g. the Pu-erh tea ceremony) and customs to visitors to the maison.

This traditional Shanghai mansion is home to Shang Xia

This traditional Shanghai mansion is home to Shang Xia

With dresses costing €4000 and this Shang Xia lacquered walnut-wood Da Tian Di rocking chair, €10,800, Shang Xia is play the long game

With dresses costing €4000 and this Shang Xia lacquered walnut-wood Da Tian Di rocking chair, €10,800, Shang Xia is playing the long game

As a brand, Shang Xia avoids the pitfalls of Chinese luxury brethren Shanghai Tang and Wunjun through sheer patience, unquestioning venture funding, an emphasis on genuine ancient Chinese crafts techniques and a carefully curated collection of limited products that are not for general sale, but auctioned through auction houses like Christie’s. While Hermès intends to break-even this year, it is too soon to say if the strategy for intentional blurring of lines between art and commerce is going to be successful, but LUXUO can say this, it is a singularly unique one, not even the most rarified of watch brands comes close. In an interview with Financial Times, Jiang states, “Shang Xia is a cultural investment project … [At other brands] the life of the project is five years or 10 years, at Shang Xia the dream is 100 years, 200 years.”

Truthfully, if Mao Zedong’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution decimated Chinese culture, tradition and history from 1966 until 1976. Shang Xia 上下  is quite possibly amongst its last defenders and preservers, even if they’re not successful commercially, Hermès is doing the world a big favour artistically and culturally – there is some great PR value in that, after all, Shang Xia is a perpetuation in that quintessential Hermès belief in craftsmanship, creativity, heritage and integrity – something which even some venerable watch brands have commoditised and automated.

Jiang Qionger, Shang Xia Founder/Creative Director

Jiang Qionger, Shang Xia Founder/Creative Director

Shang Xia mahjong table

Shang Xia mahjong table

Business of Luxury: Does Richemont’s failure with Shanghai Tang provide an allegory for Shang Xia?

Richemont’s sale of Shanghai Tang does indeed cast a pallor over the viability of Chinese luxury brands but if anything Hermès’ carefully paced expansion in China has not only kept the French maison profitable but also retained that aura of ultra-exclusivity, a lynch pin of luxury retail and branding. It would seem that Shang Xia is being incubated and nourished in the same vein as its adoptive parent.

Richemont’s ignominious venture with Shanghai Tang was also the result of a confluence of increasingly exorbitant Hong Kong rentals (closing a flagship in 2011), over expansion and perhaps also, a misreading of a growing generation of millennials. That said, with Hermès expecting breakeven from Shang Xia this year and a jarring (Hermès not only never sells online but their website is similarly vague and opaque) eCommerce platform on Tmall that runs contrary to typical Hermès strategy, it is likely that this out-of-character decision is also the result of knee-jerk impatience of shareholders of the publicly traded company and it is anyone’s guess what will happen should Shang Xia fail to break even by year’s end.

Though no figures for the Shanghai Tang sale were released by Richemont, the brand was one of four labels that were under threat of divestiture since 2013: The other brands being Dunhill, Chloe and Azzedine Alaia. After announcement of the sale, Richemont Group shares were up 0.7%.

New art museums in France: Architect Frank Gehry to design the LVMH Applied Arts Centre in Paris

The Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Canadian-born American architect Frank Gehry. | © AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

LVMH will tap on the expertise of architect Frank Gehry once again to create a centre for applied arts beside the Louis Vuitton Foundation. The celebrated Canadian-American architect, aged 88, will be tasked with renovating and transforming a disused museum. The site is located a stone’s throw from the futuristic Foundation Gehry on the western edge of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne.

The new centre, to be called the Maison LVMH – Arts, Talents, Patrimoine (Heritage), will be created at an estimated cost of 158 million euros (US$167 million), of which 50 million to 80 million euros will be employed for asbestos removal. Stated a joint statement on the centre made by the luxury group and the City of Paris on March 8: “The new centre will be dedicated to artists, live performances and to the applied arts and French savoir-faire.”

The centre will include two halls for concerts, exhibitions and workshops, and a panoramic restaurant on the top floor. The project will be developed in “close collaboration with the heirs of Jean Dubuisson,” the statement said, noting that Dubuisson’s grandson Thomas Dubuisson, also an architect, has worked for Gehry at his Los Angeles base.

French President Francois Hollande attended Wednesday’s news conference announcing the project, along with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Gehry and LVMH Group’s Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault. Hidalgo said in the joint statement that the project “sends a powerful message to young generations: artisanal craftsmanship offers tremendous potential and opportunities that we encourage them to discover and seize.”

The original function of the eight-storey building to be revamped to house the art centre was a museum of folk art and traditions. The structure, designed in the 1970s by architect Jean Dubuisson, has been closed since 2005.

LVMH Buys Majority Rimowa Stake for $716 million

LVMH Buys Majority Rimowa Stake for $716 million

The world’s largest luxury group LVMH got a bit bigger Tuesday after a $716 million deal to take a majority position in German luggage maker Rimowa. The AFP reports that Cologne-based Rimowa, known for its lightweight aluminum suitcases, will continue to be run by Dieter Morszeck, the grandson of the firm’s founder; Morszeck will also retain an equity stake.

“We share with Dieter Morszeck the same passion for innovation and a common desire to offer very high-quality products derived from a European tradition of craftsmanship,” LVMH’s chief executive Bernard Arnault said in a statement.

Arnault’s son Alexandre will join Rimowa as co-CEO after the deal for the 80 percent stake closes, which is expected to happen by January.

Rimowa employs 3,000 people and distributes its products in 65 countries through nearly 150 stores and partners.

The company has sought to remain a pioneer in the luggage industry, developing a waterproof case and the use of lightweight polycarbonate.

Its latest innovation is including a small screen that displays the luggage tag, facilitating check-in via a special application.

haider ackerman

Haider Ackermann Named Berluti Artistic Director

In a move that caught us – and almost everyone else too – by surprise, designer Haider Ackermann has been named the new Artistic Director of the luxury menswear label Berluti. Ackermann’s Wikipedia page not yet been updated with this new. There hasn’t even been any speculation linking him with the LVMH label, even though once a time many people were suggesting him as a possible replacement for John Galliano at Christian Dior. Ackermann was also a contender for the top job at Maison Martin Margiela, when Martin Margiela was himself still involved.

Ackermann, a designer more widely known for the womenswear collections under his eponymous label than for his menswear pieces, will take up the position with immediate effect. He will present his first collection for the LVMH brand during Men’s Fashion Week in January 2017.

The Colombian designer launched his brand in 2003, adding a menswear line in 2013.

“I am sure that his vision will bring a unique opportunity to Berluti,” said CEO Antoine Arnault, son of Bernard Arnault and architect of Berluti’s current success, after he merged it with French suitmaker Arnys.

Berluti To Hire Haider Ackermann

More rumours abound in the fashion industry. With Berluti’s creative director Alessandro Sartori returning to Ermenegildo Zegna, LVMH is rumoured to be looking to hire Haider Ackermann as Berluti’s new creative director. The news isn’t as simple as a label looking for a new creative director, however; it is hoped that Ackermann could help boost the label’s flailing fortunes.

LVMH certainly needs a boost, if recent happenings are any indication. They sold Marc by Marc Jacobs last year, Donna Karan just recently, and even Berluti has been making constant losses. Unfortunately, nothing has been confirmed yet, although with the estimated €100-150 million that Berluti has burnt (info via Business of Fashion) since LVMH stepped up investments five years ago, LVMH will want to act fast.

Read more on Men’s Folio Singapore.

DK Heads Back To NY for $650 Million

More movement abounds in the fashion industry! In the latest episode of business deals moving faster than fashion trends, French luxury group LVMH has completed the sale of ready-to-wear group Donna Karan International to US clothing manufacturer G-III Apparel. While it sounds mildly heartbreaking, rest assured that the American label’s worth has been recognized and valued at $650 million. The label is merely moving house: Donna Karan and the DKNY brands will return to New York, their birthplace in the 1980s.

“Donna Karan International is an iconic global fashion company,” said Morris Goldfarb, CEO of G-III, which owns the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger labels so it is no stranger to American fashion labels and is, arguably, even better place than LVMH to make a go of this. “Donna Karan brings increased scale and diversification to G-III, which will finance the transaction with debt and issuing $75 million in new stock to LVMH.”

This move isn’t completely out of the blue, however. Despite steps taken towards restructuring Donna Karan in a bid to boost its lackluster growth, results have been less than satisfactory, with the line eventually suspended since last summer when the eponymous founder left. It is thus a no-brainer that the world’s largest luxury group would let Donna Karan go when a suitable suitor such as G-III expressed interest.

Louis Vuitton Denies Nicolas Ghesquiere Departure

Rumors have been rife that Nicolas Ghesquiere, Creative Director of Louis Vuitton, might be following the lead of his industry peers and leaving the label he is currently helming. Amid the ensuing flurry of confusion and “not-again”s, the French label has finally stepped forward to put an end to all that hearsay. Ghesquiere’s contract with Louis Vuitton will only expire in November 2018. This means we’ll still see him with the Maison for at least a good two years more.

All that gossip was not entirely unfounded, however. In a TV interview dated from June, Ghesquire expressed his desire to start his own label, even going as far as to state that he would soon be in a position to work on that – except no one knew soon translated to 2 years in Ghesquiere’s mind. Adding fuel to the fire, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault himself has even suggested that he’s considering a change of Creative Director at Louis Vuitton, with Jonathan Anderson of Loewe his man of choice. Throw the rampant phenomenon of revolving doors (yet again) plaguing the industry into the formula, and the fashion world is thrown into a state of mild panic. How can we live without Nicolas Ghesquiere at the head of Louis Vuitton?

If recent happenings are any indication, we fashion people will manage, especially since Ghesquiere still has two more years left in his tenure. We’re not going to take our Creative Directors for granted anymore, what with their ephemeral presence.

This article was written with information from Business of Fashion.

Catwalk on Water: Fendi Stages Trevi Fountain Show

Shimmering models wearing the latest Fendi creations appeared to walk on water last week at a fairytale show in Rome’s Trevi fountain to mark the luxury fashion house’s 90th anniversary. The show has already taken the Internet by storm and you can see the video at the bottom of this story, if you missed the livestream itself. The action begins at the 9:20 mark.

Above the sparkling waters of the Baroque fountain, models wearing hand-painted dresses in pale pink, blue and cream, adorned with hand-stitched flowers or starlit scenes, glided across a transparent catwalk in the basin. If this sounds familiar to you, it might be because the show was heavily promoted, even though invitations only went out to 200 guests.

The soft, luxurious collection of 46 outfits was inspired by Danish fairytale illustrator Kay Nielsen, who painted color plates for the book Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen in 1924 and also later worked for Disney, including on sequences of the film Fantasia.

Glittering evening gowns with slits up the sides transformed their wearers into modern-day fairy tale characters, the reflection of lights scintillating in the turquoise waters echoing the shine of pebbles glinting in the moonlight (think Hansel and Gretel) or even cobblestones, if one is in a Wizard of Oz frame of mind.

Dresses were nipped in at the waist or featured a bell skirt, the house’s trademark fur coat made an appearance in lynx, but what wowed the 200 exclusive guests was a patterned cape, in grey silk, which opened at both the front and back.

Bags looked like they were made of fur but were actually tiny pieces of silk, sown together to look like snakeskin.

As the models, including Americans Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, wound up their catwalk, designer Karl Largerfeld, wearing his trademark gloves, came out to take a bow along with the Italian house’s accessories designer Silvia Venturini Fendi.

Fendi Trevi Fountain Show Close Up

Coins in the fountain

Reaching the middle of the glass bridge he threw three coins over his shoulder into the fountain with a grin — a tradition that is said to ensure a return to the eternal city.

The fountain, made famous by a scene in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in which Anita Ekberg wades through its pristine waters, was restored last year in a clean-up funded by the fashion house, which first opened its doors in the capital in 1926.

Commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730, it is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water.

The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain was made famous by Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Three Coins in the Fountain” in the 1954 romantic comedy film of the same name.

Fendi, now part of French luxury giant LVMH, said it wanted to capture the romance of the nearly 300-year-old monument, visited by millions of tourists every year, where tradition has it visitors can ensure eternal love by drinking its waters.

For those not lucky enough to bag tickets to the show, the house put on a sumptuous dinner for 600 guests at in the city’s Villa Borghese park, decorated for the occasion with Roman fountains.

As part of its anniversary celebrations, the fashion giant is also hosting an exhibition in the Square Colosseum, its headquarters in Rome, from July 9 to October 23.

Entitled “Fendi Roma: The Artisans of Dreams”, the show explores the creative history of the Italian house through a video installation and drawings by Lagerfeld of his most prized creations.

Maria Grazia Chiuri

Dior Names Maria Grazia Chiuri Artistic Director

Anything can happen in the world of fashion and often does. In what seems like a big shake-up in the industry, Dior announces its first ever female artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who was previously from Valentino.

Chiuri, known for her romantic, intricate designs at Valentino, will leave the Italian House and her longtime creative partner Pierpaolo Picciolo, whom she’s worked with since 2008. She will not only fill the vacancy left by Raf Simons since his departure last October, but will also join an esteemed league of designers the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano, who previously helmed the label.

Meanwhile, Swiss design duo Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux, who have been holding the fort, will likely move to Dior’s haute couture department, with their debut couture collection showing in Paris on July 4.

The LVMH-owned couture house has reportedly seen a four percent drop in growth in the last quarter, while its turnover is also down by one percent to (EURO)1.39 billion, and the brand is hopeful Chiuri can improve the situation. To be fair though, the overall macro-economic situation is likely to blame and the ripples from Brexit (still a possibility at the time of this announcement) will certainly not help.

LVMH Young Designer 2016: Grace Wales Bonner

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), the world’s largest luxury group has just named its latest ‘Young Designer 2016’, and it is 25-year-old Briton Grace Wales Bonner who helms the label Wales Bonner. LVMH is the parent group of fashion giants Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi, among others.

Currently in her fourth season, Wales Bonner was awarded the prestigious title, together with €300,000 that will aid the advancement of her label and support from the luxury conglomerate for a year.

“I feel quite emotional,” the former Saint Martin’s student said after the ceremony. “I’m just going to work towards building out the show, I’m not going to let it change things too much, because I have a very specific vision of how I want things to work. I think the mentoring is going to be really helpful to me, and understanding how I can scale the business up and how I can bring people into the team.”


It wasn’t an easy win either – she was chosen by a panel that included established designers J.W. Anderson, Nicolas Ghesquire, Marc Jacobs Karl Lagerfeld, Ricardo Tisci and Pierre-Yves Roussel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH. Wales Bonner’s contemporary approach to African and European influences earned her the title.

Young Canadian designer Vejas Kruszewski’s Vejas label also earned him €150,000 in prize money and a mentoring program. “We’re going to invest in developing footwear, and of course what really drives most brands financially is accessories,” he said of his plans for the label. Actress Lea Seydoux handed the prize to Wales Bonner at the third edition of the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize, succeeding Marques Almeida, who won the award in 2015.


Top 10 Luxury Firms 2016 Revealed

Deloitte’s reveals, for the third year running, the best performing companies in global luxury. Now, we usually argue against paying heed to how well luxury companies are doing, earnings wise, because this doesn’t tell you anything about the products or the experience. Also, some firms, such as Rolex, are not particularly transparent as they are not public. Anyway, for those who care, Deloitte’s annual Global Powers of Luxury Goods ranking sees the parent companies behind Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Estée Lauder retain their places at the top of the list. The AFP has the following details on it.

French-based LVMH, full name LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy SE, also owns Bulgari, Chrisitian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Moët Chandon, Dom Perignon and Benefit Cosmetics. Based on figures from 2014 (the most recent data available, apparently), it is also the world’s biggest luxury conglomerate.

Swiss company Richemont (Cartier, Dunhill, Lancel, Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoutre, Piaget) comes in second, with the US’s Estée Lauder group (MAC, Clinique, Jo Malone) in third. The top three retain their places from 2015’s equivalent Global Powers of Luxury Goods report.

Italy’s Luxottica manufactures eyewear under the its own Ray-Ban, Persol and Oakley brands as well as for Chanel, Armani, Versace, Prada and more, and moved up one place to fourth.

Also moving up one were Switzerland’s Swatch (Breguet, Longines, Omega) and France’s Kering (Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga), with Hong Kong jewelry group Chow Tai Fook moving from fourth to seventh.

L’Oreal Luxe (Lancôme, Biotherm, Kiehl’s), Ralph Lauren, and PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger) completed Deloitte’s top ten, which is cam out June 7.

Alessandro Sartori Exits Berluti, Heads for Zegna

Following in the wake of fellow designers Alber Elbaz, Raf Simmons and most recently Stefano Pilati, Alessandro Sartori is the next big name to relinquish his role as Artistic Director at Berluti. The designer had joined the brand after leaving Ermenegildo Zegna’s Z Zegna label.

[UPDATE: Business of Fashion reports that Sartori is taking up the newly created Artistic Director role at Zegna. He starts work June this year, making the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection his first full collection for Zegna.]

The LVMH-owned Berlutti had been in the hands of Sartori since 2011. In his time at the label, he brought the legendary shoemaker to the world of luxury menswear, gaining notice from fashion editors. Like his counterpart Stefano Pilati, the designer showcased his last collection during Paris Fashion Week last month.

Of his departure, Antoine Arnault whose father Bernard Arnault is the CEO and Chairman of LVMH said: “It’s the end of a chapter for us, and it was a beautiful one”.

Rumored to be taking over the role, is Alexandre Mattiussi. The former menswear designer at Givenchy currently heads his own label AMI. For more on Alessandro Sartori’s departure, find out what our friends at Men’s Folio had to say.

Moët & Chandon Seeks Next-Gen Filmmakers

It has been a great year for movies – from Ex Machina and Carol to Mad Max and Force Awakens – and as the year wraps, French champagne house Moët & Chandon is reminding the world that it wants in on the action. The LVMH-owned firm is making final calls for the next generation of filmmakers to enter its “Moët Moment Film Festival Competition”, before it’s too late.

Submissions for the festival are set to close on January 4, 2016, after which 25 finalists will be selected by an expert industry panel and featured in a 25-hour-long online film festival, where people around the world will be encouraged to watch and vote for their favorite film.

The inaugural event — announced this month — ties in with the brand’s 25th anniversary as the official champagne of the Golden Globe Awards, and asks aspiring filmmakers to submit 30-60 second films focused on the theme ‘Capture The Now’.

The selected films will be viewed by a panel of notable members of the film community, including Golden Globe-winning actress Gina Rodriguez, producer David Guillod, Brio Entertainment Partner Rachel Sheedy, CAA agent Ryan Tarpley and We Are From LA – the award winning directors of Pharrell Williams’s interactive 24-hour music video for “Happy”.

Fly, Sail, Travel – Louis Vuitton Toasts Freedom

Luxury icon Louis Vuitton is making its mark as a leading light of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation via the “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. While we have previously covered this exhibition and another one in Singapore, it is appropriate to take stock and revisit just what makes Louis Vuitton such a powerful force and indeed, a force for good. Celebrities, influencers and such aside, Louis Vuitton is something to aspire to, a name that makes people feel good about themselves and their success, however those people define success. Coming on the heels of terror attacks in both France and the USA, this exhibition is nothing less than an expression of the triumph of freedom, of joie de vivre as it were. To go even further – because it is important at this moment in time – the exhibition is a reminder that life is not only to be savored but that celebrating life is the right message to send to the world, especially from Paris.

LV GRAND PALAIS7488 ©Grégoire Vieille-r50

Detailed view from the exhibition, Chapter 4 The Invention of Travel. All exhibition photos ©Grégoire Vieille

Opening night of “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” saw plenty of star power, assembled we think not only to push the brand but also to push this positive message. Of course the top brass of LVMH were present – CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault and CEO of Louis Vuitton Michael Burke – and so was the French Minister for Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs Emmanuel Macron. They were joined by Daniel Buren, Bertrand Lavier, Christian de Portzamparc, Xavier Veilhan, Olafur Eliasson, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Gaultier Capucon, Laurent Grasso, Fabrice Hyber, Laurent Korcia and Kader Attia. In the official press release, Louis Vuitton calls this “a statement to support freedom of creation and the French art-de-vivre.” It is also worth noting that travel expands one’s horizons and reminds us of what a diverse world we live in. This diversity is also worth celebrating in Louis Vuitton’s past, present and future in the spirit of world travel – and potentially travel to other worlds in this or the next century.

Alber Elbaz-r50

Alber Elbaz

Curated by Olivier Saillard, “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” (literally Fly, Sail, Travel) traces the history of Louis Vuitton from its foundation in 1854 right up to present times, and then projects into the future. There are nine chapters to this tale, conceived and brought to life by Robert Carsen. Of particular note here are elements from private institutions and collections, the most notable of which is Gustave Courbet’s Chene  de Flagey, on public display for the first time since 2013. The exhibition is open to the public of course and is ongoing till February 21, 2016.

Bulgari to Open Largest Jewelry Manufacture

Why is jeweler and watchmaker Bulgari opening the largest jewelry production facility in Europe? The AFP carried the announcement and, doubtless, so did most of the other wire services. Those familiar with the current situation will indeed be encouraged by this news and reminded that the scenario is likely to be positive for jewelry in general and for the big names in particular. We expect to see much more activity in jewelry, particularly in mergers and acquisitions and growth in production capacity. In fact, Bulgari is perhaps the most famous of recent high profile acquisitions, after LVMH picked it up in 2011.

The new Bulgari premises in Valenza, Italy, are due to open in the second half of 2016 and will increase the LVMH luxury label’s production capacity. It is indeed excellent to learn that this expansion will be taking place in Italy, the home of the Bulgari legacy.

The structure, which is being designed by architectural firm Open Project, will be constructed using materials with a low environmental impact, and will aim to achieve LEED certification. It will consist of two buildings with markedly different architectural styles straddling innovation and tradition.


The plant will blend the rehabilitation of an existing building, an early 19th century farmstead, with a new three-level building designed to provide the entire structure with natural light and ventilation. You can just make out how this will look in the image above, and in the other pictures here.

The development will be used for the production process from the prototype to the creation of increasingly complex pieces and collection. It will also house the first Bulgari Academy, which will be created to provide permanent support and training activities for interns and new employees.

“With the building of the new Jewellery Manufacture, which will increase the Brand’s production capacity supplying the volumes we need to sustain the market’s growth, the Bulgari Group will have at its disposal the biggest Jewellery Manufacture in Europe,” said CEO Jean-Christophe Babin. “For Bulgari this project means investing in the inestimable value of Italian manufacturing art, which combined with creativity and style, is the distinguishing feature of the excellence of its products.”


LVMH invests in Italian jeweler Repossi

The world’s leading luxury conglomerate LVMH has taken a minority position in Italian jeweler Repossi to help it expand its distribution network, the two parties said November 30.

“Given the reality of the market and competition today, I have decided to open up the company’s capital and LVMH has taken a minority stake,” said the brand’s creative director, Gaia Repossi, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro.

This “consequential” participation in the company will allow the Italian brand, which has two of its own stores in Monaco and Paris, to develop “some locations,” she added.

The Repossi collection is sold at 90 locations in the world. Its turnover is estimated at around 15 million euros (US$15.8 million), according to several analysts cited by the newspaper.

Delphine Arnault, deputy managing director at Louis Vuitton, said in the interview that “Gaia’s work points to a promising future” for the brand.

The great-granddaughter of the company’s founder, Gaia Repossi, took over as director from her father Alberto Repossi at the age of 21.

The LVMH group is involved in six luxury sectors including in its jewelry portfolio Bulgari, Chaumet, De Beers and Fred.

Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida

Marques’ Almeida wins LVMH Prize

Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida

Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of the label Marques’ Almeida, founded in 2011, have been awarded the second annual LVMH Prize for young fashion designers.

The winners were chosen by a star-studded jury that included Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, JW Anderson and Nicolas Ghesquière.

The Portuguese designers will receive €300,000 in prize money plus a year of personalized assistance from LVMH teams in areas such as intellectual property, marketing, production and distribution.

Designer Simon Porte Jacquemus won a Special Prize for his brand Jacquemus, founded in 2010.

LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

LVMH reveals final cut for LVMH Prize

 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

LVMH has unveiled the eight finalsts shortlisted for the second annual LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

The finalists, selected from 26 semi-finalists by 45 international fashion experts, are: Arthur Arbesser, Coperni, Craig Green, Faustine Steinmetz, Jacquemus, Marques’ Almeida, Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh and Vetements.

The winner will be selected by a star-studded jury — including Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, JW Anderson and Nicolas Ghesquière — and announced in May.

The award, launched in 2014, will see the winning fashion designer receive €300,000 in prize money, in addition to 12-months personalized assistance from LVMH teams to help build their buisness.

Areas of focus throughout the mentorship will include: intellectual property, marketing, production and distribution.