PARIS — Louis Vuitton’s upscaling drive is gathering steam.
The luxury giant has tapped accessories designer Darren Spaziani to spearhead new lines of “very high-end” leather goods to complement existing collections, WWD has learned.
Spaziani, who worked at Vuitton from 2004 to 2006, was most recently director of accessories design at Proenza Schouler, whose hit bags have included the PS1.
He has also been design director of accessories at Balenciaga in Paris and a design consultant for Diane von Furstenberg and Tory Burch in New York.
He is to start on Oct. 1, the day before Vuitton’s spring fashion show here.
Delphine Arnault, who joined Vuitton earlier this month as executive vice president in charge of all the house’s product-related activities, called Spaziani “one of the most talented designers of his generation.”
“He is already familiar with our house and he will bring his modern vision and great professionalism to Louis Vuitton’s creations,” she said.
Spaziani holds a masters degree in fashion from London’s Central Saint Martins, and a B.A. from the London College of Fashion.
According to his LinkedIn profile, during his first stint at Vuitton he worked under artistic director Marc Jacobs and was responsible for leather goods, textiles and jewelry for the Vuitton men’s line, including runway.
Details of Spaziani’s new role could not immediately be learned, but it is understood he will work on products for women and men.
The key hire — and thrust into hyper-luxury — is the latest signal of a more elitist direction for Vuitton, which is eager to burnish its brand positioning and leadership amidst cooling luxury demand in many markets.
At an analysts’ presentation earlier this year, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Delphine’s father, boasted that Vuitton’s leather craftsmanship is unmatched.
“In some cases, Louis Vuitton has no competitors capable of producing the same quality of leather goods,” he asserted, adding it was vital to heighten its “quality lead” and provide “superior” customer service in stores.
Spaziani’s appointment also telegraphs that Delphine Arnault, previously deputy general manager at Christian Dior, is capitalizing on the network of talents she has scouted over the years, and her rapport with creative people.
As reported, Arnault was said to be a driving force behind LVMH’s recent acquisition of a majority stake in London-based Nicholas Kirkwood, a rising star on the women’s footwear scene.
Vuitton is also leveraging her expertise in accessories and high-end leather goods, as Arnault learned the ins and outs of those metiers at the elbow of Dior ceo Sidney Toledano over the past five years.
Arnault is second in command at Vuitton, arriving roughly nine months after Michael Burke, formerly chairman and ceo of Bulgari and Fendi, took the management helm of LVMH’s cash-cow brand.
Burke has already been ramping up the luxury quotient in Vuitton’s retail network. For example, two key European flagships that opened earlier this year, in Venice and Munich, are located in historic buildings, loaded with cultural displays and art works, and offer a number of personalized services.