By and  on May 27, 2005

PARIS — Confirming another spin of fashion's revolving door, Celine president and chief executive Jean Marc Loubier said Thursday the house hopes to name a successor to designer Roberto Menichetti sometime next month.

As reported in WWD Wednesday, Peter Som is believed to be among the candidates being courted by Celine, a division of luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Loubier declined to comment on which candidates are up for the job, saying it could jeopardize negotiations. However, it is believed the search includes a few marquee names. Indeed, one of the key runners-up in the initial search last year to replace longtime Celine artistic director Michael Kors was Raf Simons, who on Thursday signed with rival Prada Group to become creative director at Jil Sander.

Sources said LVMH renewed its overtures toward Simons about two months ago, but was rebuffed as he pursued talks with Prada.

Loubier would only say Celine's next designer is expected to be in place to show a spring-summer 2006 collection in October that "will be consistent with what we do. We always value creativity, but applied to real products done with charm."

Celine's cruise collection, to be unveiled to press and buyers in the coming days, was "launched" by Menichetti, but executed by the in-house design team, Loubier said.

Menichetti's departure ends a lackluster one-year collaboration. In recent weeks, the designer and Celine failed to reach an agreement to continue their partnership, with Menichetti eager to devote more time to his signature collection, which he designs from his home base of Gubbio, Italy, about an eight-hour commute to Paris.

"We end our relationship on very good terms, because the issue on my part was that I couldn't dedicate enough time to Celine," Menichetti told WWD. "Not only do I design my brand, but I'm also its majority shareholder, so I need to be extremely dedicated. I wish Celine well, but right now I must prioritize my brand."

He hinted at new projects for his brand, like the possibility of opening directly operated stores or rounding out the lineup.

Loubier characterized the split as mutual and without rancor, while acknowledging poor reviews of Menichetti's two collections for the house. Before Celine, Menichetti had been creative director of Burberry for three years, and had worked at Jil Sander in Hamburg, Germany.

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