PARIS — Louis Vuitton is primed to keep powering its growth trajectory with its trio of top talents.
On Wednesday, the French luxury brand, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said it has renewed Nicolas Ghesquière’s contract as artistic director of women’s collections. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement cements the relationship between Vuitton and Ghesquière, who was signed on to design the company’s women’s line in 2013, succeeding Marc Jacobs. Under his tenure, the world’s biggest luxury brand has seen “unprecedented” growth in ready-to-wear and leather goods, Vuitton said in a statement.
Renewal of Ghesquière’s contract completes the trifecta of moves Vuitton needed to lock in its design talent across its various product categories for the foreseeable future. The house in March appointed Virgil Abloh to head men’s design. Off-White’s founder succeeded Kim Jones in the role and Abloh will show his first collection in June during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital (Jones, after a few months’ hiatus, returned to LVMH to take on the role of artistic director of rtw and accessories at Dior Homme).
And in April, Vuitton revealed that high-profile designer Francesca Amfitheatrof, previously of Tiffany & Co., would take over the role of artistic director of watches and jewelry.
Luca Solca, managing director and head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, said Wednesday’s announcement about Ghesquière’s contract was “good news, overall. Ghesquière brings continuity, while the brand evolves with capsule collections and Virgil Abloh in men’s wear. In a fast-changing market, hedging your bets is key.”
Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, said he was “very happy” that Vuitton was pursuing its journey with Ghesquière.
“He has been able to make the Louis Vuitton woman contemporary, resulting in major commercial successes. His vision, talent and creativity place him as one of the best designers in the world today,” Arnault stated.
Michael Burke, chairman and ceo of Louis Vuitton, said: “I am excited to continue working with Nicolas and the energy he brings to Louis Vuitton. He has established a strong, daring Louis Vuitton aesthetic imbued with the spirit of the house and his own sensibility. I am particularly proud of our achievements together and I look forward to seeing where the next years will take us.”
In 2016, Ghesquière ignited rumors that he would leave the brand by announcing on French television that he planned to launch his own label. Vuitton took the unusual step of denying a Reuters report that it was mulling a replacement, though talk of a split has resurfaced at regular intervals.
Known for his exacting, couturelike approach, Ghesquière has aided Louis Vuitton in its quest to build a more upscale and elite reputation after years of rapid global expansion and a heavy reliance on monogram canvas. He has created a handbag signature with his boxy Petite Malle design, inspired by the house’s trunks.
“I am very pleased to open the next chapter of the story I started with Louis Vuitton almost five years ago. Balancing an incredible heritage with a constant quest for innovation has always been an essential part of my work, it is also at the center of the history of this company and I look forward to further develop the codes we have implemented over the last years,” said Ghesquière.
The designer regularly showcases his futuristic designs with spectacular shows in architectural landmarks, including the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Miho Museum near Kyoto and the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. The brand will hold its resort 2019 show on Monday at the Fondation Maeght near Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the French Riviera.
In parallel, he has built strong relationships with celebrity ambassadors such as Emma Stone, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Williams and Jaden Smith. Léa Seydoux, another face of the brand, earned plaudits at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where, as a member of the jury, she wore a selection of Vuitton looks on the red carpet.
LVMH recorded a 10 percent rise in first-quarter sales, propelled by a 16 percent organic sales increase from the fashion and leather goods division — home to Vuitton.
The conglomerate does not break out sales for individual fashion brands, but Solca estimates Louis Vuitton posted revenues of 9.3 billion euros in 2017. Rogerio Fujimori, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, pegged retail sales at 9.1 billion euros.
At LVMH’s annual general meeting in April, Arnault said Vuitton deliberately restricts the size of the business in order to maintain its desirability.
“All we would need to do is produce more in order to double revenues. I don’t think that’s the right strategy. We want to provide our customers with an experience,” the French luxury titan said. “What interests me about Vuitton is not its size. It’s that Vuitton remain the world’s most desirable brand in 10 years’ time.”