November, 2013 – This article from the Wall Street Journal discusses Louis Vuitton naming designer Nicolas Ghesquière as its new creative director for women’s fashion in hopes of boosting sagging sales. (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303482504579177723022159680)
By Nadya Masidlover and Christina Passariello
Louis Vuitton has picked France’s most avant-garde designer, Nicolas Ghesquière, to put the polish back on the 19th-century luxury label.
Louis Vuitton Monday named Mr. Ghesquière, the former Balenciaga designer, as its new creative director for women’s fashion, making him a pivotal part of Vuitton’s attempt to burnish its reputation as one of the most prestigious brands and revive sagging sales.
Mr. Ghesquière, who succeeds Marc Jacobs at the helm of the world’s largest luxury fashion label, is set to present his first collection for the brand in March. Mr. Jacobs stepped down after Vuitton’s Paris catwalk extravaganza a month ago.
The swift transition at LVMH MC.FR -1.55% Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA’s biggest brand will allow the label to avoid skipping a fashion season, after Mr. Jacobs resignation to focus on his own eponymous brand.
“Louis Vuitton has always represented for me the symbol of ultimate luxury, innovation and exploration,” said Mr. Ghesquière, in a statement.
The 42-year-old Mr. Ghesquiere is also interested in creating his own fashion label from scratch with LVMH’s backing, according to a person close to the situation. However, the two parties haven’t come to any agreement yet, according to this person.
Mr. Ghesquière couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
His arrival comes as Louis Vuitton, LVMH’s blockbuster brand, battles to move into a more upmarket segment of the luxury market in an effort to resuscitate sales. In the past year, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault installed a new chief executive at Vuitton and appointed his daughter, Delphine Arnault, as the No. 2, tasked with hunting for new talent.
Many observers believe Vuitton has overextended its presence. The brand has nearly 500 stores and its brown-and-gold “LV” logo bags are spotted around the globe. The bags also are the victim of constant knockoffs. A report by the American Affluence Research Center last month found that Vuitton is the most overrated brand in luxury, according to the wealthy American households it polls. Last month, LVMH said revenue at its fashion and leather-goods division fell 3.8% in the third quarter.
Mr. Ghesquière, known for starting his research for fabrics and themes many months ahead of a show, will likely be scrambling to get his first collection ready in time for the house’s March fashion show. At Balenciaga, he had two teams of designers: one dedicated solely to the runway collection, and the other working on the more commercial collections.
At Vuitton, Mr. Ghesquière will be part of a creative triumvirate presiding over the world’s biggest luxury fashion brand. His former Balenciaga colleague Darren Spaziani is in charge of the house’s biggest cash cow, handbags and accessories. Kim Jones designs men’s fashion for Vuitton.
Mr. Ghesquière arrives at Vuitton just under one year after his former employer Balenciaga, announced a “joint decision” to put an end to their working relationship. Mr. Ghesquiere had been the head designer for Balenciaga since 1997 and was in charge of the brand’s entire image — from clothing and accessories to store design and advertising. It is unclear whether the scope of his role at Vuitton will be as wide.
Since leaving, he has become entangled in a lawsuit with Balenciaga, which is suing Mr. Ghesquiere for breach of contract after the designer criticized the company’s management of Balenciaga in a magazine interview earlier this year.
A spokesman for Balenciaga parent company Kering KER.FR -1.81% declined to comment.