Nonsense, Bernard Arnault said Thursday at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton's annual shareholders' meeting, suggesting Vuitton has "the most potential for growth" among the group's galaxy of star brands.
He also boasted that fast-growing Sephora, once targeted for possible disposal, could one day become a "little Vuitton" as profit margins continue to fatten.
Sounding relaxed and upbeat, an effusive Arnault voiced optimism for the high-flying luxury sector, and said LVMH's sales in April accelerated from the first quarter, when sales vaulted 15 percent, to 3.56 billion euros, or $4.27 billion.
"The start of the year has been excellent," he said, citing strong growth in the U.S., China and Asia and a continued rebound in Japan. "All economic indicators are favorable."
His principle grumble was European monetary policy, which he said is strangling growth on the continent; France in particular holds the distinction of "most difficult" market for the luxury giant.
He also took a swipe at French union authorities, which are seeking to halt Sunday openings of the world's biggest Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysées.
Otherwise, Arnault was brimming with confidence and salesmanship, trumpeting, for example, Dior's new Capture Totale skin cream with special ingredients harvested in Madagascar. "All the women who use it tell me their wrinkles disappear," he assured his audience, prompting a round of chuckles through the room.
At times, Arnault took on the tone of a professor, explaining to a capacity crowd of shareholders at the Carrousel de Louvre here the delicate task of building fashion brands and coaxing profits out of businesses that hinge on creativity and artisanal production methods. "It's not a miracle," he said, repeatedly mentioning the example of Fendi, where a turnaround is gaining traction. He said the key was finding the right formula, and then "pressing on the accelerator."
Fond of the car-racing metaphor, he continued, "One must take into consideration the fragility of a company. It's like putting a truck driver into a Formula One race. After the first lap, you will wind up in a ditch."
Arnault said success means finding "a designer who is inspired by the brand and its DNA, and an inspired manager who can professionally develop all of the global processes. It's not easy." Arnault listed Loewe, Celine, Pucci and Marc Jacobs as his next stars in the making.During a question-and-answer session, Arnault revealed that the future of the Samaritaine department store, shuttered for six years to correct grave safety concerns, is under study. He said it would remain dedicated to retail, "but it's premature to say what we are going to do. Nothing is concluded."
Shareholders approved the appointment of Arnault's son, Antoine Arnault, to the company's board, where he joins his older sister, Delphine.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye