By  on January 10, 2005

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is no longer going for baroque.

Christian Lacroix confirmed Friday that Bernard Arnault, who launched the designer to stardom by setting up a couture house just for him in 1987, is in talks to off-load it to Falic Group, the Florida-based travel retail firm.

Simon Falic, chairman of the Florida-based Falic, stated, “We are in final negotiations to acquire the entire brand.”

The designer himself, meanwhile, said that, while he is not party to LVMH’s negotiations, he is hardly opposed to having new owners as he has been increasingly vocal about lackluster development at his fashion house.

“I’m still very confident in the future, with these people or whoever else,” Lacroix said Friday. “Before that, I want to finish my couture collection [to be shown on Jan. 25] because it’s my best answer.”

LVMH declined comment on any deal, but Falic said the company met with the workers’ association at Lacroix last week. He added that “we would continue to respect all licensing agreements,” meaning that the group would work with the Paris-based Inter Parfums, which has developed the Lacroix fragrances. He declined to say what purchase price is being discussed.

Miami-based Falic Group is best known for its Duty Free Americas chain of 90 duty-free, news and gift stores in U.S. airports and along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. Judith Leiber recently partnered with Falic to expand its business into Central and South America.

Lacroix fits the travel retail operator’s strategy of acquiring high-end brands, Falic noted, adding that this would be the third beauty brand acquired by the group. Previous acquisitions include the Hard Candy and Urban Decay cosmetics lines. Those two California-based upstart indy brands also were acquired from LVMH in December 2003.

It is believed that Falic — described as a huge fan of the designer’s elaborate and eccentric designs — would maintain Lacroix’s money-losing, but critically acclaimed, couture business — and his design services.

It also is understood that Lacroix would continue to work for LVMH as ready-to-wear designer for Emilio Pucci. He joined Pucci in 2002 and, while his contract there is said to be up for renewal later this year, he has given the label fresh buzz and currency.

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