Marc Jacobs is leaving Louis Vuitton as plans take shape for an eventual public offering for the Marc Jacobs brand.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, together with Jacobs and his long-time business partner Robert Duffy, confirmed the developments to WWD following months of speculation.
The applause that rang out this morning from the vast tent in the Cour Carrée of the Louvre signaled the end of Jacobs’ tenure as creative director for the storied French house and the official beginning of Jacobs’ IPO preparation. The offering should occur within the next three years. WWD first reported on June 10 LVMH’s interest in taking Marc Jacobs public.
Jacobs’ successor at Vuitton has not been named, nor has a decision been made, though strong indicators continue to point to Nicolas Ghesquière as the front-runner.
With Jacobs’ and Duffy’s contracts with Vuitton set to expire at the end of this year, speculation had been rampant about their future at the brand. They reportedly sought investment guarantees for the New York-based Jacobs business, of which LVMH owns a substantial stake. The luxury conglomerate, Jacobs and Duffy each own one-third of the Marc Jacobs trademark.
Jacobs leaves Vuitton after a dazzling 16-year run during which he orchestrated the transformation of the leather-goods giant from a stodgy luggage house to a global fashion presence. He pioneered the concept of the fashion-art runway collaboration, first with Stephen Sprouse and later, with several artists including Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince. The bags he designed with Sprouse and Murakami became global phenomena.
At Vuitton, Jacobs acquired the reputation, along with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, John Galliano in his Dior days and the late Alexander McQueen, for staging the most exciting and extravagant shows in Paris. In recent years he has commissioned an elaborate carousel; an iron-framed elevator; a Pop Art escalator; a full, functioning train and, last fall, an entire floor of a “hotel,” its doors opening upon videos of hotel “guests” apparently unaware of the voyeuristic eyes of the audience.
He has shown a similar flare for showmanship at Marc Jacobs, most recently with his controversial spring collection for which he spun pseudo-Victorian and athletic references into a dark, highly ornamented take on the season. LVMH officials believe the Marc Jacobs business could explode given sufficient investment and support, including the undivided attention of Jacobs and Duffy. Arnault said the group is committed to such support, particularly by developing new products and strengthening distribution by shoring up the brand’s own retail network.