By  on November 23, 2010

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a powerhouse in women’s fashions and leather goods, is putting management muscle behind one of its underdeveloped men’s jewels: the luxury footwear specialist Berluti.

Antoine Arnault, communications director at Louis Vuitton and the 33-year-old son of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, is slated to take the management helm at Berluti in mid-January, WWD has learned.

His title will be managing director, in addition to his duties heading up marketing and communications at Vuitton. Vuitton’s executive vice president Pietro Beccari is becoming president of Berluti,

Neither Arnault nor Beccari could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

However, it is understood LVMH has ambitions to build Berluti into a global player in the robust luxury men’s business by expanding into ready-to-wear, travel bags and other categories.

Founded in Paris in 1895 by a transplanted Italian and famous for its shoes in unusual colors and patinas, Berluti generates an estimated 80 percent of its revenues from footwear. Its most famous style, dubbed the Alessandro after the founding cobbler, is a court shoe fashioned from a single piece of leather without any seams. It retails for 980 euros, or $1,340 at current exchange rates.

Olga Berluti, billed as one of the only female bootmakers in the world, now heads the brand’s artistic direction and is famous for cultivating the giants of French cinema, as well as the late artist Andy Warhol, as her clients.

With only about 40 locations worldwide, including franchised boutiques, Berluti also has potential to expand geographically. The business is concentrated in Western Europe, China and Japan.

An affable and enthusiastic executive, Arnault started his career with Internet startup He joined Vuitton in 2002, working in its marketing department and overseeing stores in the French provinces. He has been a member of LVMH’s board since 2006.

He was named Vuitton’s communications director in 2007, expanding its advertising footprint to television and movie theaters, and expanding its online presence with live-streaming and 360-degree imagery.

During Arnault’s tenure, the leather goods powerhouse also introduced an influential campaign dubbed “Core Values” and starring iconic personalities such as Bono, Mikhail Gorbachev and Keith Richards. He is a graduate of HEC in Montréal and also has an M.B.A. from INSEAD.

Bertrand Stalla-Bourdillon, who has piloted Berluti for 15 years, will now devote his full attention to Marc Jacobs International, where he is president and chief executive officer. Pierre Bouissou, who had been Berluti’s managing director, is expected to take up a new post at LVMH.

The succession plan for Arnault’s communication role at Vuitton has yet to be defined.

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