PARIS — Hedi Slimane, having energized Christian Dior men’s wear with his sleek, modernist designs, is set to redefine its men’s fragrances and cosmetics, too.
On Thursday, Christian Dior said it renewed Slimane’s contract as artistic director of Dior Homme for three additional years, while also adding responsibility for new perfumes as well as such Dior scents as Eau Sauvage, Fahrenheit, Dune for Men and Jules.
Getting down to business right away, Slimane boarded a jet Thursday bound for New York to shoot the new campaign for Higher Energy, the new brother to the Dior men’s fragrance, Higher Dior, which he helped steward in 2001, choosing the column-like bottle and dramatic black-and-white advertising.
He could not be reached for comment, but in a statement he said, “It’s fantastic. I’m really happy about this, given my attachment to the house of Dior and the Dior Homme project.”
Signing the contract squelches speculation that Slimane might exit the house, since negotiations to renew it were said to be prickly, as reported.
“Not only is he staying, he has more responsibilities,” said Sidney Toledano, president of Christian Dior. “Everybody is very happy.”
As Toledano pilots the fast-growing Dior fashion house toward its goal of $1 billion in volume by 2006 or 2007, Slimane’s fashions and image direction are considered key ingredients. The men’s wear business, which is believed to have grown more than 40 percent last year, is now wholesaled to some 150 multibrand stores worldwide. And Dior Homme is gaining more space in its growing network of freestanding stores, now numbering 150.
Toledano noted four developments slated to bow before the end of the year: a 2,000-square-foot men’s store adjacent to the Dior boutique on 57th Street in New York; a men’s and women’s unit on Rue Royale in Paris; a men’s floor in the Dior flagship rising on Ometesando in Tokyo, and a Dior Homme in-store shop at Le Bon Marche department store, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a sister company to Christian Dior SA, parent of Christian Dior Couture and LVMH.
“And there are more on the way in 2004 and 2005,” Toledano assured. He cited “strong growth” of Dior men’s wear in the first quarter that outpaced the house, which includes couture, women’s ready-to-wear and accessories by John Galliano and fine jewelry by Victoire de Castellane. Revenues in the period vaulted 19 percent to $135.5 million, as reported.One of men’s wear’s biggest stars, Slimane burst onto the scene with his sharply tailored, often androgynous designs for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. He signed on with Dior in June 2000 after being courted heavily by Prada Group and Gucci, which had offered him a signature fashion house.
It could not be learned if Slimane’s new contract stipulates the eventual launch of a Hedi Slimane women’s line, long an ambition of the French designer. Under his old contract, he was allowed to produce about 10 percent of his collection in small sizes for his female fans, who include Linda Evangelista, Nicole Kidman, Charlotte Rampling and Jeanne Moreau.
But the deal clearly satisfies Slimane’s desire to better unify Dior’s men’s image. As reported, the designer was said to be unhappy with recent ads for Eau Sauvage in France that featured a variety of men lit in a stark style, but without Slimane’s penchant for unconventional masculinity. His runway shows feature marching armies of slender young men, cast from the streets of Berlin and Paris.
Claude Martinez, president and chief executive of Parfums Christian Dior, already a $1 billion business, said he welcomed the chance to work with Slimane and indicated “we have very important projects to develop together.”
The launch of Higher Energy is slated for mid-September worldwide, targeting young, cosmopolitan men.
Dior already has a top-ranked men’s scent, Fahrenheit, which was launched in 1988 and has earned an international following. But its other big men’s seller, Eau Sauvage, is a more regional scent, ringing up sales primarily in Mediterranean countries.
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