With Changes at Vuitton, Céline, Berluti & Dior, LVMH Completes Talent Revamp

Widespread change is afoot at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Last year, the Paris-based conglomerate embarked upon what has been coined the most momentous management reshuffle in five years, with Sidney Toledano, the long-serving chairman and chief executive of Christian Dior, stepping down to take up shop as the executive chairman of the LVMH Fashion Group – which includes Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Céline, Loewe, and Marc Jacobs, among other brands.

Now, just a few months later, the group has revamped a significant number of its menswear creative positions to stay ahead of the widespread push to adopt streetwear in the upper echelon in the fashion industry. The shifts kicked off when the top spot at Céline was handed off from Phoebe Philo to Hedi Slimane, who will introduce menswear to the cult brand.

This was followed by the announcement that Kim Jones, the reigning menswear artistic director at Louis Vuitton, was jumping ship to Dior Homme, to ideally add some much-needed excitement to the brand, which was been in something of a lull in terms of millennial enthusiasm. Jones, who joined Vuitton in 2011, is taking the spot that Dior’s menswear director Kris Van Assche left vacant, while buzzy creator Virgil Abloh is taking up the role at Louis Vuitton.

Finally, it was revealed on Tuesday that Kris Van Assche will be the new artistic director of LVMH-owned suiting brand Berluti, following Haider Ackermann’s 3-season stint, thereby “completing the final move in what may be the biggest reinvention yet of the men’s side of the world’s largest luxury group,” per the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman.

A spokesman for LVMH confirmed that Van Assche would be in charge of shoes, leather goods, ready-to-wear and accessories collections at Berluti, and would present his first collection during the Paris Men’s Fashion Week in January 2019.

Interestingly enough, as Friedman notes, “Traditionally, when a designer leaves a brand, he or she leaves the group.” In this case, however, LVMH is keeping its big-name creatives under its umbrella in a move that is “more akin to the executive moves that typically happen in such big organizations — and perhaps a reflection of the corporatization of the creative side.”

The moves, themselves, have certainly drummed up no shortage of press for the brands involved, something that LVMH has been well-known to court. As the Times’ Amy M. Spindler aptly stated in connection with Marc Jacobs’ appointment to Louis Vuitton in early 1997, writing that “publicity is valued at Vuitton.” She was also sure to highlight that “what Mr. Arnault seems to understand better than any other investor is that the cachet of image that is so difficult to manufacture can be bought.”

In much the same vein, Friedman wrote this week, “Changing designers creates a sense of anticipation and excitement that calls attention to a brand, especially when two of the designers are famously master marketeers (Mr. Slimane and Mr. Abloh).” Such marketing is oftentimes the key – particularly in 2018 – to sales, and so, it will be interesting to see how such buzz translates to LVMH’s bottom line over the next several seasons.