DEAL SAID NEAR FOR JACOBS TO DESIGN VUITTON RTW LINE

PARIS — Bernard Arnault isn’t finished making news yet: His LVMH conglomerate is said to be on the verge of closing a deal for Marc Jacobs to design a new Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear collection.
Vuitton executives were in the Far East and could not be reached for comment Monday, but the company has been in talks with Jacobs for some time.
Jacobs and LVMH officials reportedly began meeting in July, with the American designer’s name feverishly speculated over for design posts at Christian Dior, Givenchy, Kenzo, LVMH or possibly even for Arnault to back Jacobs’s existing New York business. In October, as reported, Arnault appointed John Galliano designer at Dior, with Alexander McQueen succeeding Galliano at Givenchy.
Jacobs could not be reached for comment at presstime, but sources here indicate the Vuitton deal is near completion.
The designer will be charged with creating an rtw line for one of Arnault’s star brands. Sales of Vuitton — mostly luggage and bags — reached $1.3 billion in 1994, representing 25 percent of LVMH’s total corporate sales. LVMH’s luxury goods segment has outperformed the company’s various spirits divisions over the last few years, and sources said Arnault has been eager to seize that momentum and expand Vuitton’s international presence through rtw.
The U.S. represents one of Vuitton’s fastest growing markets, with over $300 million in sales and the firm is investing heavily in a new 4,600-square-foot flagship on New York’s 57th street that will open in 1997.

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