VIVENDI WOES: Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has resigned his post on the advisory board of Vivendi Universal SA, the troubled media and utilities giant. The move came a day after Vivendi shares plunged 23 percent, to 1989 levels, over concerns for its mounting debt and dwindling cash flow. Arnault declined to comment on the reasons for his decision. Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier is a member of LVMH’s advisory board and the two titans are considered friends. They have also been business allies in the past. Two years ago, during the war over Gucci between Arnault and archrival Francois Pinault, Messier helped hammer out a proposed solution to the standoff. Arnault had been a member of Vivendi’s advisory board since 1996. Meanwhile, Messier is expected to remain on LVMH’s advisory board, whose members also include Diego Della Valle, Pierre Gode and Albert Frere.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN: The Committee for the Implementation of Textiles & Apparel has reversed an earlier decision to slap imported Halloween and assorted costumes with quotas and visa requirements, beginning June 1. CITA announced Tuesday that it would exempt imported costumes from quotas and visas “until further notice” because the U.S. Customs Service is appealing a decision handed down by the U.S. Court of International Trade. The matter stems from a case involving Rubie’s Costume Co. in which the court ruled in favor of Rubie’s, which argued that the classification of imported costumes should be changed from the toy category, which enters the U.S. duty and quota free, to apparel, which is controlled by quotas and duties. CITA said it would revisit the issue once a decision on the appeal is issued.
DAY IN COURT: Workers at Yves Saint Laurent couture will again be crowding into a Paris courtroom. As reported, a court last week rejected French tycoon Francois Pinault’s attempt to force the retiring couturier’s 150 workers to accept the sale of the house to fashion manufacturer Patrice Bouygues. But Pinault’s family holding company, Artemis, which funded the couture, plans to appeal and will ask a judge today to fix a date for a hearing. The workers’ committee has invited members to be present to show their resolve and remind the judge of their opposition.
Levi’s Low Look: Levi’s plans to bang the low-rise drum in all its fall advertising, starting with a print campaign to break in August magazines. Tagged “Dangerously Low,” the ads show models in gritty environments wearing Levi’s low-rise styles for men and women. The theme is to be carried through into the company’s yet-to-be completed TV campaign, as well. The ads are scheduled to appear in magazines including Teen People, Glamour, FHM and Maxim through December.