>> It's sounding more and more like Bernard Arnault's long-held strategy of hiring enfant terrible designers to reinvigorate luxury brands (John Galliano at Dior, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy) will not be employed for his new Dior hire, whoever that may be.
Arnault has seen the even-tempered — even shy — Phobe Philo create triple-digit growth at Celine, and believes that it has the potential to be the next major brand. “It will take time, but [Celine] is on the way,” he tells Robin Givhan in Newsweek. “Phoebe has the potential. She is doing a style which is completely in line with our time.” Plus, he notes: “My daughter Delphine, she’s working at Dior, but she wears Celine.”
There's also the bad taste that Galliano seems to have left in Arnault's mouth. “I’m surprised that I did not get a call or a word of excuse from him,” he said not long after Galliano was fired. “After all that I did for him?” And he still hasn't been able to bring himself to forgive Galliano: “Not yet."
Although Arnault says he has no plans to make Dior into a minimalist label in the way of Celine, he does suggest it's time for a change at the house. Givhan writes: "[It's] time to recast his global, glittering, status-laden empire as something else. The watchwords are: intimate, Old World, artful. And the timing feels right."
As Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano points out: “A lot of schools produce designers, but the technical people — this is what we have to protect. They work very hard here, and they live outside of Paris. They are not living like the designer. They are simple people. Some of them have a difficult life. They have their feet on the ground." Ultimately, he says, "They’re sustaining the house."
Arnault agrees, saying of the current Dior situation: “I think we have the equivalent of the Vienna Philharmonic. From time to time, the Vienna Philharmonic could play without a conductor because they are so good. But that cannot last forever. We want to [make] the best choice for the house and find the best conductor.”
But, star designers can come and go. “A good product,” Arnault says, “can last forever.”