The world’s richest man, Bernard Arnault is the leader of the $418 billion conglomerate. After decades of success, he is handing the Dior Couture reigns over to his oldest daughter; Delphine.
The “wolf in cashmere,” Bernard Arnault, entrusted his eldest daughter Delphine the keys to Christian Dior – the Parisian couture firm that, in 1947, with the New Look, practically established the contemporary fashion industry.
Arnault has one daughter and four sons, all vying for power; each with an existing place in the empire.
A 73-year-old Arnault purchased Dior in 1984 on a tip from a cab driver in New York, and luggage/handbag manufacturer Louis Vuitton split the profits of the parent firm equally. Therefore, it plays a significant part in both the emotional and family dynastic aspects.
And recently, Arnault’s oldest daughter beat her siblings out. The 47-year-old Delphine Arnault is now in charge of Dior, a company with tremendous financial and symbolic value. Delphine served as Dior’s creative director during John Galliano’s creative frenzy and currently acts as the empire’s representative to designers. She is a former LSE student; and the only Arnault sibling who is a member of the executive committee and board of directors of the parent company, LVMH.
The Significance of Change
The importance of Delphine’s promotion is clear. For months, analysts have speculated about the succession plans within Europe’s most valuable company; arguably the epicentre of the global luxury ecosystem.
Delphine’s promotion came less than a month after her younger brother Antoine was appointed chief executive of holding company Christian Dior SE, which controls LVMH, and vice-chairman of its board.
Under the leadership of Delphine, Arnault says, “the desirability of Louis Vuitton products advanced significantly, enabling the brand to regularly set new sales records. Her keen insights and incomparable experience will be decisive assets in driving the ongoing development of Christian Dior.”
Burke transformed Louis Vuitton into a financial powerhouse; with estimated sales of €21.8 billion last year, including a 2017 partnership with Supreme that launched the premium streetwear sector. Today, Louis Vuitton is responsible for more than half of LVMH’s earnings.
Then there’s the challenge of ensuring the flawless integration of Tiffany. The US jewellery company was purchased by Arnault for $16 billion two years ago. It is led by the youngest member of the family, 29-year-old Alexandre Arnault.
The news coincided with China’s revelation that it is removing its zero-Covid travel restrictions. China, whose ardent luxury customers account for one-third of worldwide luxury sales.
“We see no clouds on the LVMH horizon,” says Luca Solca at the luxury goods analyst firm Bernstein, estimating that Chinese luxury spending could rise 35% this year.
But in other ways, Delphine’s appointment may be crucial. In a traditionally male-dominated profession, more and more women are taking up leadership positions in creative fields, explains fashion journalist Amy Odell. “Anecdotally, you hear that Dior is flying off the shelves – perhaps because female designers understand what women want to wear and what they’re going to buy”.
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