PARIS — Gaia Repossi is taking her relationship with LVMH to the next level, WWD has learned.
Repossi, the Italian jewelry brand she heads as creative director, will announce today that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has taken a minority stake in its capital to help support its future growth.
The 29-year-old designer has long been a front-row fixture at the catwalk shows of LVMH-owned brands including Dior and Fendi and has developed a personal relationship with Delphine Arnault, instrumental in forging the alliance with the luxury conglomerate. Arnault is a board member of LVMH and second-in-command at Vuitton.
Repossi said that the acquisition would allow the family-owned firm to increase brand awareness and expand its retail network in key locations.
But she stressed that she wanted to grow slowly in order to maintain the niche feel of the brand, known for creations including the best-selling Berbère multiband rings and ear cuffs, worn by celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone and Keira Knightley.
“When you face a certain success and production increases, you have to embrace that demand, but to a degree that is realistic and allows a progressive expansion,” Repossi told WWD.
“The idea is to follow a strategy that has this very organic growth, and for that I’m very excited and pleased to share it with LVMH and Delphine herself, because for me, the group has the best knowledge and experience in this category,” she added.
Arnault said LVMH was happy to share its management know-how and help Repossi accelerate its retail expansion.
“We share with this family-owned company the same DNA based on the excellent quality and creativity of its collections and products. The customer response to Repossi promises a bright future for this brand, which we are now happy to be a part of,” she said in a statement.
While neither party was willing to disclose financial details, Repossi described LVMH’s stake as “a substantial minority.” She added that it was “too soon to say” if the jeweler would ever consider selling a majority stake in its capital.
Repossi is to stay on as creative director, a post she has occupied since 2007, and member of the board of the jeweler, while her father Alberto Repossi, grandson of the company’s founder, remains honorary president.
The company expects to name a chief executive officer in the next few months, though Repossi said she would be involved in key decisions.
“It’s still a family brand and it’s still our name, so it’s bigger than just being involved in the collections and the creative,” she explained. “It’s something I would not give away, and the group is absolutely not either in that dynamic, because they want the same eye to be there.”
The acquisition reflects the growing attraction of the jewelry category, which is set to be the strongest-performing segment in personal luxury goods this year with a forecast growth of 6 percent at constant exchange rates, according to the latest estimates by Bain & Co. and Italian association Fondazione Altagamma.
“It’s a market that is developing in a very unexpected way,” Repossi acknowledged, adding that LVMH’s backing would allow the brand to increase its visibility and become more established in the face of growing competition.
Repossi will join an LVMH jewelry stable dominated by Italian behemoth Bulgari, alongside Chaumet, Fred and De Beers Diamond Jewellers. But the firm does not expect to benefit from any synergies.
“The way the group works is they really like to have each house independent, and let them create their own environment, their own production. So for the moment, the idea is to change the least possible what the house has been doing,” Repossi said.
Founded 90 years ago in Turin, Repossi produces most of its pieces in its historic workshops in Italy. Some one-of-a-kind pieces and prototypes are made in Paris.
The brand is sold in 90 points of sale worldwide, including Le Bon Marché and Colette in Paris; Barneys New York in U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco; Tsum in Moscow; Harrods, Selfridges, Browns and Dover Street Market in London; Isetan in Tokyo and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.
Repossi has two historic flagship stores, located in Monte Carlo and Paris. Its boutique on Place Vendôme is under renovation and the new store design by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2016, will serve as the template for future stores and corners worldwide.
The store design is expected to reflect the pricing structure of the brand, which offers entry-level pieces such as its Antifer collection, beginning at 600 euros, or around $638 at current exchange; fine jewelry, such as the Berbère collection, between 10,000 euros and 200,000 euros, or $10,640 and $212,800, and one-of-a-kind pieces, with prices that can rise to 1.5 million euros, or $1.6 million.
Repossi suggested the alliance with LVMH would boost her creativity, by allowing her to work with fine art photographers, for example. “I like to open up in all sorts of directions, so obviously, there’s going to be some surprises,” she teased.