PARIS — Berluti has parted ways with its creative director Haider Ackermann after just three seasons, marking the latest high-profile change in men’s wear at parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, WWD has learned exclusively.
Antoine Arnault, chief executive officer of Berluti, paid tribute to the designer in a statement about the split.
“Haider has been at the core of the evolution of Berluti’s collections and image these past few seasons. I want to thank him for everything he has accomplished since his arrival. His feel for materials, colors, and his wonderful shows will always be linked to the history of the house,” he said.
Ackermann said: “I am immensely proud to have been able to put my creativity at the service of this house with an exceptional knowhow, whilst working with a passionate team. I thank them for their commitment.”
Berluti added that it would reveal his successor shortly.
LVMH has been reshuffling its decks to keep up with the red-hot streetwear sector, with the nomination in rapid succession of Hedi Slimane as artistic, creative and image director at Céline, where he will launch men’s wear; Kim Jones as artistic director of ready-to-wear and accessory collections at Dior Homme, and, just this week, Virgil Abloh as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton.
Ackermann’s surprise departure has kindled speculation that Kris Van Assche could step into the role, following his departure from Dior Homme after 11 years at the helm. LVMH said earlier this month that the Belgian designer would take up a new assignment within the group, but did not provide specifics at the time.
Ackermann joined Berluti in September 2016 — something of a left-hand turn for the Paris-based brand, which accrued a reputation for suave tailoring under its previous creative director, Alessandro Sartori. Ackermann showed his first collection for the label in January 2017.
During his tenure, the designer introduced a more languid, feminine edge into the collections, which were shown on men and women — an attitude personified by Timothée Chalamet, who bucked convention by wearing a white Berluti tuxedo and bow tie to the Oscars ceremony last month.
Arnault, who has overseen Berluti’s transformation from an elite cobbler to a luxury lifestyle label for men, has been vying to bring a more casual component to the brand, amid a wider shift in men’s wear from uptight suits toward athletic-tinged, laid-back clothes.
Ackermann is a relative newcomer to the men’s wear game, having shown his first collection as a guest at the Pitti Uomo trade fair in 2010 and staged his first Paris men’s wear show under his own label in 2013.
His signature bohemian style is hinged on fancy dinner jackets, low-slung pants and long, artfully coiled scarves. Ackermann also earned a celebrity following for his sweatshirts and hoodies, with Kanye West and Usher among famous devotees who have fanned his reputation on social media.
Sources said he lacked in-depth knowledge of accessories, which are core to the Berluti business, with footwear and leather goods accounting for around 70 percent of sales, according to industry estimates. The brand is known for its unusual colors and patinas, plus a court shoe fashioned from a single piece of leather without any seams.
During his tenure at Berluti, Ackermann continued to show his signature women’s and men’s collections, which are produced by Belgian entrepreneur Anne Chapelle.
LVMH does not break down sales by brand in its core fashion and leather goods business group, but reported “solid growth” at Berluti in its most recent full-year results. Industry sources estimate the brand generates revenues in the region of 190 million euros.
“Berluti delivered excellent results in all its markets and opened its first store in Australia. Creative director Haider Ackermann has brought a bold, modern aesthetic to the brand. Berluti’s leather goods lines are making strong headway. Footwear saw solid growth and the brand is expanding its range of exceptional products,” LVMH said in its annual report.
Son of LVMH chairman and ceo Bernard Arnault, Antoine Arnault assumed the management helm of Berluti in 2011 and set out to create a luxury men’s house to mirror such female-driven brands as Fendi and Céline within the vast luxury group.
Today, Berluti counts 52 boutiques worldwide and 23 wholesale accounts, with store openings planned this year in the U.K., Australia and China.
The brand was founded in 1895 by a transplanted Italian and is famous for such celebrity clients as Andy Warhol, Pierre Bergé, Jean Cocteau, Alain Delon, Dean Martin and Yves Saint Laurent. LVMH acquired Berluti in 1993 and added leather goods in 2005.