By and  on February 24, 2011

PARIS — Signaling its commitment to Dior Homme, Christian Dior is tapping a key talent from Bernard Arnault’s extended constellation of luxury holdings to oversee the brand. According to market sources, Fabrizio Malverdi, chief executive officer of Givenchy, will take the helm of Dior Homme in April.

Malverdi will report to Dior president and ceo Sidney Toledano, under whom he had served as managing director of John Galliano, where Toledano is president. Toledano recruited Malverdi, an Italian national, from the Muriella Burani Fashion Group in 2006. He left John Galliano to become ceo of Givenchy, also owned by Arnault’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Neither Malverdi nor Dior officials could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Malverdi will join Dior Homme with a solid track record at Givenchy, which logged strong sales and profitability growth in 2010, according to market sources.

And he will arrive at a time when the Dior fashion house is on a strong upswing, having logged a 15 percent jump in revenues last year to 826 million euros, or $1.1 billion, while profits vaulted 169.2 percent to 35 million euros, or $46.5 million. Sales in Dior’s own boutiques advanced 22 percent last year, or 16 percent at constant exchange rates, with strength across both women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and leather goods.

As part of its upscaling drive, Dior is building bigger and more sumptuous boutiques, with men’s products key to the mix. For example, Dior’s One Peking Road flagship in Hong Kong, which has just been expanded to 10,000 square feet from 6,500 square feet, now features a section dedicated to Dior Homme.

Belgian designer Kris Van Assche, named creative director of Dior Homme in 2007, has been charting a new direction for the brand distinct from his predecessor, Hedi Slimane, moving on from razor-sharp, rock ’n’ roll-influenced collections to a still minimalist, yet more languid silhouette. Van Assche is also known for his sophisticated approach to luxury and penchant for design with discreet, yet distinctive detailing.

Hallmarks of Van Assche’s era at Dior Homme include raw-edged finishing and featherweight, unlined tailoring. He has also reworked classic men’s wear staples including jeans, sneakers, polo shirts, blousons, trenchcoats and tuxedos.

His fall collection, paraded last month before the likes of Arnault, Karl Lagerfeld, Sean “Diddy” Combs and a bounty of French film stars, featured double-face cashmere coats and slouchy, full-legged pants.

According to sources, Sue Whiteley, currently Louis Vuitton’s managing director for the U.K., Ireland and Scandinavia, is in line to succeed Malverdi at Givenchy. Whiteley and Givenchy officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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