The analysts are not happy. Chairman Yves-André Istel’s statement at the Richemont earnings report today that “No disposals are under consideration at this time or for the foreseeable future.” has been met with grim reaction in the city, which was hoping that Johan Rupert’s sabbatical, and the new leadership of co-CEOS Bernard Fornas and Richard Lepeuwould opt for a rationalisation of the Group, where the fashion brands – Chloe, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel, Shanghai Tang, Alaia – have always seemed an anomaly. Clearly, there’s something of a perception gap here between internal and external players. Why?
The other day I was talking to Geraldo da Conceicao, Sonia Rykiel’s new creative director, about his plans for the brand, when he said something that surprised me. “I want us to be an accessible luxury brand,” he announced. Hmmm, I responded: “So you are dropping your price points?” He looked confused. “No, not at all. In fact, they are probably going up.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled.
This has been a good week for Richemont’s fashion brands. Tonight a Chloe retrospective opens at the Palais de Tokyo, and last weekend Lady Gaga gave a shout-out in front of millions of fans at the Stade de France to the designer Azzedine Alaia, calling him a genius. You know what that means: sales!
After buying Hermes’ 45 per cent stake in Jean-Paul Gaultier last year and talking up its development potential, Spanish luxury group Puig has put yet more money where its mouth is and just announced the appointment of senior luxury executive Ralph Toledano to the newly created position of President of the fashion division. If you want to send a signal to the fashion community that you are intent on being a serious player, this is a pretty efficient way to do it.
Well, the rumours have proven true, and Hannah MacGibbon has left Chloe, to be replaced as creative director by yet another English woman, the fourth in a line that began with Stella McCartney: Clare Waight Keller.
The 2010 British Fashion Awards just took place, and guess who won? Well, Burberry, for Digital Innovation; Mulberry, for Designer Brand; and — drumroll please — for Designer of the Year: Phoebe Philo for Celine. Oh, and Alexander McQueen, with that Lifetime Achievement thing. In other words, a large chunk of the major international brands that can be linked to the UK (and that advertise globally).