PARIS--In the first juicy post-couture rumor, there's talk here that Christian Dior might be considering replacing Gianfranco Ferre with Jean Paul Gaultier. All of the parties involved, however, dismissed the rumor. "It's barnyard chatter," said Dior managing director Francois Baufume. "I deny it formally. We are completely content with Mr. Ferre. This talk is entirely unfounded. Globally, we are very happy with Gianfranco Ferre. This is not an easy profession. Real talent is very hard to find." Reached in Milan, Ferre said he was dumbfounded by the report. "I must say I'm really surprised," he said. "I don't know anything about this. My contract has still some way to go. This is really something new." Ferre signed a five-year contract with Dior in May 1989, when he dramatically replaced Marc Bohan. In March 1992, before that pact expired, Dior renewed Ferre's contract until 1997, partly to kill rumors at that time that he might be replaced. The name on everyone's lips then was Christian Lacroix. The original agreement reportedly earned Ferre $2 million a year, although neither Dior nor the couturier have ever commented on the size of the deal. At Gaultier, house president Donald Potard made light of the rumor. "Last week, I heard Jean Paul was about to become couturier at Givenchy. Then he was meant to be going to Balmain. Now there's talk of Dior. Well, I'm delighted to hear that. Soon they are going to say that Jean Paul will take over at Yves Saint Laurent," Potard laughed. Potard also denied that either he or Jean Paul had held talks with Bernard Arnault, president of Dior and of LVMH MUet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury goods conglomerate that controls the fashion house. "Jean Paul has never met Bernard Arnault, and I've never met Mr. Arnault," Potard said. "We haven't even been contacted by him."
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