Things at Louis Vuitton are already looking up since Nicolas Ghesquière took the reigns last year and made his debut last month. Fashion insiders know that showing a wonderfully refined collection is not enough, attention simply must be paid to where those looks go post-show and how a brand manages itself in the greater scheme is just as important than what goes down the runway.
Louis Vuitton, which has not-so-secretly suffered quite a bit over the past several years following what felt like complete and utter market saturation of its famed Toile Monogram print, has been working doggedly to regain its footing as one of the most most covetable luxury brands. In fashion, image is everything and for a while there, the image of too many speedy bags (some of which were counterfeits) was dominating.
However, thanks to some restraint by the house, the introduction of a new range of accessories, including the Capuccine bag, which sold out and spawned waiting lists, and the debut of Nicolas Ghesquière, things are looking up. It seems that Louis Vuitton has learned its lesson. Exclusivity is crucial, especially for houses inhabiting the upper echelon of the luxury market.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "rather than blanketing half of Hollywood, which is what Dior has done so effectively, Ghesquière and Vuitton seem to be going for friends and fashion independents, as in the weeks since the March 5 runway show, only a few stars have had a chance to wear the clothes, suggesting that Vuitton's strategy is to be more selective about whom it dresses."
As for who has stepped out in pieces from the Fall/Winter 2014 collection (Ghesquière's first for the design house): Charlotte Gainsbourg, Ghesquière's longtime muse; Jennifer Connelly, a friend of the designer, who was the face of Balenciaga in 2008 and 2009, when Ghesquière was the creative director; actress Chloë Sevigny, who sat front row at Ghesquière's debut show in Paris last month; actress Dianna Agron, who the LA Times describes as "a longtime Vuitton fan"; and lastly, up-and-coming singer/actress Haley Bennett.
It seems quite positive from a branding perspective that Louis Vuitton is practicing restraint right off the bat. Now, we'll see if its enough to boost Louis Vuitton's growth, which has been lagging (LVMH reported that its the fashion division's sales fell 0.4% in 2013), following years of massive gains. LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault attributed the slowing growth to decreased spending in emerging markets, as well as focusing Louis Vuitton on more exclusive products and fewer logo-centric items that used to push sales higher. More to come …