Celine’s new designer just declared war
Is LVMH’s Celine set to become one of fashion’s superbrands? A runway show over the weekend suggests it might – and it’s all down to one man: new designer Hedi Slimane. Slimane previously worked at Kering’s Saint Laurent, where he lent his signature style to the brand’s clothing. Now, he’s applied it to Celine – and that could position it to grab market share from Saint Laurent. In the fashion world, that’s akin to declaring war.
LVMH’s share price has risen by 24% so far this year
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Slimane’s Celine line up met with rapturous applause. Described by Bloomberg as “youthful”, black and “rock-and-roll”, it prompted a slew of rave reviews on social media. Polish record producer and reality-TV star Maja Sablewska simply said “the king is back”.
That’s a popular sentiment amongst fashion’s high and mighty. Describing Slimane, HEC Paris business school’s Gachoucha Kretz (a marketing professor) explains: “he’s a brand in himself, and anything he touches makes money.”
It’s an interesting move by LVMH, and one in which it’s wearing its strategy on its sleeve. In appointing the superstar designer to Celine, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault has effectively made the brand a more authentic Saint Laurent. Because Kering’s brand still bears the hallmarks of Slimane’s vision – but he’s not the man behind their look anymore.
Mario Ortelli, a luxury consultant, summed it up thusly: “If Celine is going to grow significantly, and I believe it will, the question is from which brand it will take the market share.” Ortelli believes Slimane’s appointment (as well as a shared price point) signifies that the answer is Saint Laurent.
It’s likely that Celine will continue down this line. In a rare interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Slimane convincingly countered the suggestion that Celine was muscling in on Saint Laurent’s territory: “I found my style more than 20 years ago, unless it’s the other way around. It passes through a line, a stroke, an appearance, a silhouette that I have been obsessively pursuing since.”
Dominion holds LVMH in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.
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