Change is underway at Céline. In July, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand announced that its CEO, Marco Gobbetti, was leaving to take up the same role at London-based brand Burberry. This past week we learned that Loewe has tapped a new chief executive officer: Pascale Lepoivre, who has joined the Spanish leather goods firm from Céline, where she had been the number two executive under Gobbetti.
The recent changes come on the heels of an array of rumors that Céline’s creative director Phoebe Philo was looking to leave the house. She was reportedly offered Raf Simons’ former position at Christian Dior following his departure last year, but the parties encountered difficulties in closing the deal when Philo insisted upon bringing her team with her to Dior. If this sounds familiar, it should. Marc Jacobs was reportedly in a similar situation in 2011 when Dior was looking to fill the very same position following the expulsion of John Galliano after his anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris café.
Simons ended up getting the Dior creative director job, as opposed to Jacobs, in large part because Jacobs, who was serving as the creative director of Louis Vuitton at the time, reportedly wanted to bring his entire design team from Louis Vuitton to Dior. This was a non-negotiable element for LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, who holds Christian Dior as his most treasured brand. As WWD noted upon Simons’ departure last year, “It is understood the scope of the Dior job — limited to the women’s universe, and with a grandiose boutique design by American architect Peter Marino considered off-limits to alteration — proved a hindrance to interesting certain candidates during the search in 2011 and 2012.”
As for Lepoivre’s exit, Pierre-Yves Roussel, Chairman and CEO of the LVMH Fashion Group, told WWD last week that there is “a very strong product team [in place] at Céline and we will soon be making some announcements about the team. We have some very good people joining the project, besides the CEO role.”