Kering

Today is travel day, as the fashion flock leaves Milan and heads to Paris, the last leg of the four-week marathon that is the womenswear collections, and often the week one that produces the most highs and lows and sheer spectacle. So what are we looking forward to? Four major debuts are taking place this week – more new names at old houses than in any other city. Here are the big ones to watch: Read more

LVMH has confirmed it has taken a minority stake in Young Italian Designer (we will not acronym that for obvious reasons) Marco de Vincenzo, making him the second such up-and-comer to receive such investment from the luxury behemoth, and underscoring the increasing competition among the established groups to identify, and potentially own, new talent. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but there’s no question, it’s putting its money where its mouth is. At least some money. Read more

It yet another indication that high end fashion brands see growth opportunity in charging ever-further upmarket, today Ralph Lauren (that’s their most recent show, left) named Valerie Hermann, latterly CEO of Reed Krakoff, as President of a newly created Luxury Division. This follows announcements by Louis Vuitton and Gucci that they see their future on the tippy-top of the luxury pyramid. At the same time, the move puts the Ralph Lauren strategy at odds with that of his fellow American “premium brand,” Michael Kors, whose phenomenal growth has been driven in large part by exploiting the price-point opening left when peers deserted the high end for the highest end. It suggest Mr Lauren is going after European competitors, as opposed to Mr Kors. Read more

Whoopee: the very fun holiday game of “Who’s Going to Buy Who Next Year?” has officially begun with a launch entry from Bernstein Research, an arm of AllianceBernstein. And what are they thinking? Watches. Watches and jewellery galore. Read more

Pity the poor luxury CEO in Francois Hollande’s France: no sooner is your wife speaking to a foreign real estate agent than the rumour mill is rife with speculation that you are about to flee the country (and maybe all those proposed wealth taxes), and set up home somewhere else. What else to conclude from the recent furore over the sight of actress Salma Hayek, aka Mrs Francois-Henri Pinault, aka wife of the CEO of Kering, the second largest French luxury group, lunching with a UK broker earlier this week? Read more

Forget obvious battlegrounds like stores (who has got the biggest/luxist/most special) or designers; the most heated fights in luxury are clearly taking place behind the scenes, in the back-end and backrooms. The latest entrants: Chanel and Paco Rabanne, which stepped into the supplier/accessories arenas respectively. Read more

What a week. Monday, LVMH announced it was opening a giant, Google-like beauty campus in central France to help research and the local economy; Tuesday, Kering announced it was entering into a JV with Bottega Veneta designer Tomas Maier to grow his eponymous business. Yesterday, LVMH announced the establishment of the LVMH Young Fashion Designers Prize, which would award a young designer E. 300,000 and mentorship, from an LVMH exec (plus three grads a smaller amount and a year’s employ at LVMH); today, Kering announces it is creating the “Python Conservation partnership” in conjunction with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN SSC Boa & Python Specialist Group) “with the aim of contributing to the improved sustainability of the python trade and helping facilitate industry-wide change.” (Kering likes snakeskin; that’s a look from the Gucci spring/summer 2013 show, above left.) Zowie. What are they putting in the water over there in Paris? Anyone else feel competition to be good heating up? Read more

In yet another sign that the balance of power between designers and the brands and Groups that employ them may be shifting in the designer’s favour, today Kering announced it had entered into a Joint Venture with Tomas Maier (left), aka the creative director of Bottega Veneta, aka the man who made that brand into the second largest luxury brand in the Kering stable, and the fastest growing, to develop his own brand, entitled – guess – Tomas Maier! Still, Mr Maier founded his brand in 1997 and joined Bottega in 2001. So why is this happening now? Read more

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? Read more

Having now spent an entire evening mulling over Nicolas Ghesquière’s move to Louis Vuitton – OMG! Time to think! Such a radical concept – I can’t help feeling a little tinge of regret that M Ghesquière ended up at another major brand, instead of opening his own house. Sure, I’m excited to see what he does at Vuitton, and how the brand gets re-imagined with a new team, both corporate and creative, but at the same time, the fashion world feels smaller, rather than larger: instead of adding a new brand, and maybe a truly new designer to an old brand, which would create two new opportunities, we’ve simply engaged in yet more musical chairs. And I keep wondering why? Read more

And so the collective breath can be expelled: the thing everyone expected to happen has finally happened, and Nicolas Ghesquière has officially been named artistic director of Louis Vuitton womenswear. Oh, the drama! But will it have a happy ending? Read more

Stay out of the office (more or less) for a month to attend to personal matters, and what happens? Strange things! I mean, first Burberry makes its designer CEO; then Jil Sander departs her eponymous brand for the third time; and now it turns out Permira, the European private equity firm, is in the running to take a minority stake in Versace. Yup – that same Permira that in 2007 achieved the dubious distinction of paying more for a luxury brand – EURO 2.6 billion for Valentino Group – than any PE firm ever, only to write it down by more than half two years later. That same Permira that became a poster child for why luxury and private equity don’t mix. That same Permira that now, apparently, begs to differ. The question is why? Hope springs eternal? Or something a little more strategic? Read more

Sometimes I think over-protecting a brand may not, actually,be the best thing for the brand. Consider the news, making waves at fashion week, that Saint Laurent has decided to pull all its business from Colette, the Paris super-boutique so dear to the industry, because they are mad about it selling a brand-mocking T-shirt. The big, global company slaps down the little, independent boutique. So who looks like the bully here? It makes me wonder if they really weighed the public image consequences of their action. Read more

Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy. Read more

Take that Kering. You have a hot young British designer? Now WE have a hot young British designer. Today LVMH announced it has purchased a majority stake in UK shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood for an undisclosed amount (that’s actress Rooney Mara wearing his shoes, left), making him the second YBD this year to get snapped up by a big brand, following Kering’s acquisition of Christopher Kane. As one British style watcher said, “they’re buying like it’s 1999.” So what’s going on? Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

Ok, I know it’s the womenswear season and all eyes are on hemlines in New York (and soon London), but something is happening in menswear to which no one seems to be paying much attention, but that strikes me as worth a stop and think: various Chinese groups are snapping up classic western tailoring brands like they are M&Ms. And the ownership change is reaching critical mass. Read more

How nice, as fashion week begins, to see a new brand getting some money. Today Kering, the French luxury group formerly known as PPR, announced they were taking a minority stake in young American brand Joseph Altuzarra (that’s Joseph, left, with model Stella Tennant in Altuzarra). This makes their second recent investment in a new name – they bought a 51% stake in British brand Christopher Kane last January – and their first in a US designer. Read more

During the couture shows the hottest topic of conversation runway-side was, unquestionably, whether or not Marc Jacobs (left, at the last Vuitton womenswear show) was going to stay at Louis Vuitton – and if he wasn’t, if Nicolas Ghesquière, late of Balenciaga, was going to get the job. Well, since then, the rumour has only gotten stronger on the blogosphere — google “Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton” and you get over 3 million responses. But amid all the speculation, there’s one fact no one seems to know.
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Finally, some female executives at fashion brands. Yesterday Kering named Francesca Ballettini CEO of Yves Saint Laurent and then Lanvin announced Michèle Huiban was being promoted to CEO from the deputy general manager spot. This practically doubles the number of female CEOS in fashion. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s also a valid generalisation.
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