Byline: William Middleton, Paris / James Fallon, London
PARIS--While the English press practically handed Alexander McQueen the job as John Galliano's successor at Givenchy last week, and the New York Times anointed him as such this week, the British designer says he isn't even sure he wants the post. What's more, he says he doesn't particularly like Paris, and he doesn't sound thrilled about working for a big company. "They haven't made up their mind, nor have I," he told WWD Thursday as he prepared for his spring show, which is scheduled for today in London. McQueen also blasted LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton--the luxury house that owns Givenchy--for all the secrecy around the selection process. "I think it's ridiculous the way it's being handled," he snapped. "They're telling all the designers not to talk, but you can't keep a secret in the fashion world. It's putting a lot of pressure on me that I don't need right now." McQueen's concern about going to Givenchy relates to the impact it could have on his own company and the prospect of designing 10 collections a year. "I can't imagine anyone doing that," the 27-year-old designer said. "My first concern has to be McQueen. Givenchy would be a lot of money, but I'm not really into that. Plus, Paris does nothing for me. "If I take the job on, I see it as a completely separate entity from the rest of what is going on in Paris. If Givenchy employs me, they are employing Alexander McQueen. At the end of the day, I will be truthful to myself." As reported in these columns, John Galliano is expected to leave Givenchy to replace Gianfranco Ferre at Christian Dior, which is also owned by LVMH. An official announcement about a new Dior designer will be made the week of Oct. 14, said a spokesman for the house. According to published reports, an announcement about Galliano's successor is expected to be made at the same time. As for a replacement for Galliano at Givenchy, sources close to LVMH insist that a decision has not been made. Sources also suggest that LVMH is now conducting a general search for design talent that is not specific to any particular opening. Instead of interviewing designers only when a position is open, the group is now casting a wider net in order to make decisions quickly once openings or projects present themselves. "As the leading luxury group in the world, LVMH feels it has an obligation to be fully aware of all the design talent today and for the future," said the source. (For still more on LVMH, see page 15.) "I think they have spoken with every designer in the world," said one fashion insider here. Those whose names have been bandied about include Vivienne Westwood (who last month had the post locked up, according to the British press); Marc Jacobs (who sources suggest will be doing something with LVMH, probably ready-to-wear for Louis Vuitton), plus such other luminaries as Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia. Further fuel for the fire is the persistent rumor that regardless of which designer winds up at Givenchy, the house will discontinue its couture. Other couture houses here, including Emanuel Ungaro's, have been contacted by employees of the Givenchy atelier who are looking for jobs and telling people that Givenchy couture will be closing. "It's out of the question that the haute couture will close down," insisted a Givenchy spokesman. Sources at Givenchy Parfums, however, have also said the fashion house wants to abandon couture. "What's interesting in all this speculation about who is going to be the designer, no one is talking about the people at the atelier and how it would affect them," McQueen said. McQueen, who signed a licensing agreement with Gibo earlier this year, said it was his understanding that LVMH could remove him from Givenchy if the deal did not work out in a few seasons. "But that might kill my company," he noted. "Basically, all these big companies don't care about you as a person. You're only a commodity and a product to them and only as good as your last collection."
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