Backstage Lanvin Men's Fall 2017

PARIS — Is the Qatari owner of Valentino, Balmain and Pal Zileri eyeing Lanvin as the next fashion house it could add to its burgeoning luxury group?

According to a Paris source, Lanvin’s majority owner Shaw-Lan Wang and Mayhoola Group have recently held discussions.

The likelihood of a deal could not immediately be learned. Sources caution that Wang has long been a reluctant seller — and can be capricious.

Officials from Lanvin and Mayhoola could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

It is understood Mayhoola first made overtures to Lanvin prior to the investment group’s 2016 acquisition of Balmain, but balked at the price Wang was seeking, said to be in the neighborhood of 500 million euros, or $536.4 million at current exchange.

Mayhoola’s lingering interest in Lanvin suggests it remains keen to expand its stable and gain a bigger fashion foothold, recalling Prada’s acquisitiveness around the time of the millennium, when the Italian firm snapped up Helmut Lang and Jil Sander amid a frenzy of luxury mergers and acquisitions.

Unlike many of its larger rivals, Lanvin, which marked its 125th anniversary in 2014, is largely dependent on its wholesale partners and on ready-to-wear, meaning retail and accessories remain open as future growth avenues.

Sales momentum at Lanvin has slowed considerably in recent years, exacerbated by the 2014 ousting of longtime creative director Alber Elbaz and the break-in period with his eventual successor, Bouchra Jarrar, who has brought a more strict, tailored touch. She is to show her sophomore collection for Lanvin in March during Paris Fashion Week.

Sources said the house dipped into the red last year, with losses estimated north of 10 million euros, or about $11 million, compelling the house to consider cost cuttings.

The company’s consolidated sales have been eroding, expected to have dipped below 200 million euros in 2016 versus a peak of more than 250 million euros only a few years ago, according to sources.

The company appointed advisory firm Long Term Partners to conduct an audit amid a muted market for luxury goods, Reuters reported earlier this month.

Last year, Mayhoola Group took full control of Pal Zileri through the acquisition of 100 percent of parent company Forall Confezioni SpA.

The investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar first took a 65 percent stake in Forall in 2014. The Qatari investors continue to actively build their fashion, retail and real estate portfolios in Europe. Mayhoola also has a stake in Anya Hindmarch.

Wang bought Lanvin from L’Oréal in 2001, recruited Elbaz and left him a free hand to reinvent the business with chic cocktail dresses, chunky costume jewelry, ballerina flats, dressy sneakers and modernist men’s wear.

During his tenure, Elbaz transformed a business largely dependent on men’s wear to a leading designer brand for women, part of the vanguard in Paris that launched an enduring trend of couture-influenced French elegance.

The intensely private Wang has in the past described Lanvin as a long-term investment, taking a hands-on approach to its development in Asia. Yet she has been spending less time in Paris recently, leaving the operational management to Michèle Huiban, who was named chief executive officer in 2013. Huiban, who joined Lanvin in 2008, had been deputy general manager of the company since 2011. She is a graduate of French business school ESSEC and worked mainly in the media before joining Lanvin.

A trust associated with the Bartel family acquired 25 percent of Lanvin parent Arpège SAS in separate transactions in 2009 and 2012. The trust holds certain preemptive rights should Wang wish to explore a sale of any of her shares.