PARIS — Reinforcing that second-in-command designers are a rich vein of talent for European luxury brands, Carven on Wednesday named former Serge Ruffieux its new creative director, effective Feb. 1.
“Many huge talents started as number two, and it is so important to detect them,” said Floriane de Saint Pierre, who runs a namesake recruitment and consulting firm based in Paris.
She noted that Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, Dior’s current couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri, Céline’s Phoebe Philo, Chloé’s Clare Waight Keller and Mulberry’s Johnny Coca were all second-in-command before rising to the creative helm of their respective brands.
“It is a case-by-case scenario. Being a great number two is not sufficient to be a great number one,” de Saint Pierre said. “Being a talented creative leader of a fashion brand is not just about experience as a designer. It is about the ability to invent creative assets that resonate with today’s society.”
As WWD reported first on Dec. 15, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Nicolas Ghesquière’s longtime right hand at Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, has held extensive talks to join Chloé, where she is expected to succeed Waight Keller.
Meanwhile, Jil Sander is expected to welcome Lucie and Luke Meier to succeed Rodolfo Paglialunga, but an announcement is not expected until March, WWD reported on Jan. 11.
Lucie Meier and Ruffieux, respectively, headed the spring and fall ready-to-wear and couture studios under Simons at Dior before stepping into the spotlight between his exit for Calvin Klein and the arrival of Chiuri, his successor. Her husband Luke is the cofounder and designer of men’s label OAMC.
Ruffieux is to show his first Carven collection for resort, with his first runway show slated for Paris Fashion Week in October for spring 2018. He is to oversee the brand’s women’s rtw, accessories and footwear collections.
Sidney Toledano, chief executive officer at Dior, gave his stamp of approval to the appointment, noting that Ruffieux is joining “a brand with such a beautiful history. Serge had honed his talent at Christian Dior, working with big teams.”
Before he and Meier stepped up to the plate at Dior, Ruffieux was head designer of the women’s rtw and haute couture studios and logged almost a decade at the house. His résumé also includes at stint at Sonia Rykiel.
Last October, Carven parted ways with the creative duo behind its women’s collections: Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud. An internal team designed the 2017 pre-fall collection. Carven previously parted ways with its men’s wear designer Barnabé Hardy, an alum of Balenciaga, after 18 months.
The contemporary label, owned since May 2016 by Bluebell Group, decided to put the men’s line on hold and focus on the women’s collection. Bluebell is a Hong Kong-based, family-owned company that distributes fashion, fragrance, food and home brands throughout Asia.
Sophie de Rougemont, ceo of Carven, said Ruffieux’s “innate sense of modernity, married to his impeccable and exacting couture techniques,” are in synch with Carven’s DNA.
The house of Carven was founded in 1945 by the late Madame Carven, the French couturier who traveled the world with her collections and brought back a trove of exotic influences.
In a statement, Ruffieux noted he feels “a real affinity for Madame Carven and her vision of fashion.”