Oct 28, 2015
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Could Alber Elbaz replace Raf Simons at Christian Dior?

Oct 28, 2015

After a 14-year partnership, the celebrated fashion designer Alber Elbaz is to quit Lanvin within the next few days. This is sure to fire up rumors about who will be Dior's next artistic director.

Alber Elbaz could take over as artistic director for the womenswear collections at Christian Dior Instagram @lanvinofficial - Instagram @lanvinofficial

The game of musical chairs -- which could also be called the fashion industry's transfer market -- has well and truly begun. Less than a week after Raf Simons announced he was leaving Christian Dior, the charismatic Alber Elbaz has said goodbye to the no less legendary Lanvin fashion house.

It is difficult not to link the two resignations. While Raf Simons said he wanted to concentrate on his own projects, including his brand, Alber Elbaz has really surprised everyone in exiting Lanvin. Women's Wear Daily reports that this breakup is linked to tension that has been building up between the artistic director and Lanvin's owner, Shaw-Lan Wang.

There is therefore an expectation that the Moroccan-born Israeli fashion designer could replace Raf Simons at Dior. His name was whispered behind the scenes last week when it was announced that Simons was stepping down. For the moment it is just speculation, but if Alber Elbaz were to go to Christian Dior there is no doubt that it would shake up the fashion world.

Elbaz at Dior, the perfect match?

Alber Elbaz was hired at Lanvin to transform and modernize the luxury brand's image. Now his name seems almost inseparable from it. The designer made a major contribution to the brand's current success by creating a modern style that is elegant, glamorous, and always ultra-feminine, while respecting the fashion house's DNA. Ribbons, diamante, sequins, pleats, and ethereal skirts and dresses were given a new lease of life with a few strokes of the charismatic designer's pencil.

It's therefore difficult to imagine him taking the reins at such an influential brand as Christian Dior, with its very strong identity that is constantly in the spotlight. Something that Alber Elbaz has often shied away from, as he has said on several occasions that he likes to work away from this commotion.

The seat left empty by Raf Simons brings all kinds of possibilities to mind. Riccardo Tisci and Phoebe Philo, the artistic directors at Givenchy and Céline respectively, are other big names rumored as possible replacements. It's anyone's guess until the next announcement.

Lanvin gave no explanation but industry and financial sources said tensions had been growing between shareholders because the company's sales and profits had been in constant decline over the past three years.

Lanvin's minority shareholders include German investor Ralph Bartel, who owns 25 percent, and Elbaz who has a stake of more than 10 percent, while control is in the hands of Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang.

Lanvin, founded in 1889, is known for its silk cocktail dresses adorned with chunky jewellery. Wang acquired the label from L'Oreal in 2001 and appointed Elbaz shortly afterwards.

In 2007, Wang sold Lanvin's perfume business to Interparfums to raise funds to open new shops and develop the brand.

Lanvin's operating profit in 2014 fell to 3.3 million euros from 13.9 million euros in 2012 on revenue of 206 million euros, down from 235.1 million euros in 2012, according to the company's official filing with France's companies' registry.

The sources said Bartel and Elbaz felt Wang was not investing enough in the business and did not see eye to eye regarding strategy.

Wang was not immediately available for comment.

Thierry Andretta abruptly resigned as Lanvin's boss two years ago due to strategic disagreements with Wang who took over the executive management of the company.

Andretta is now chief executive of British fashion brand Mulberry.

Elbaz's resignation comes a week after Raf Simons left Dior after a three-and-a-half year tenure to pursue other interests.

Simons' departure sparked media comments about how fast fashion brands such as Inditex's Zara have been putting pressure on big fashion brands to produce more collections every year, creating ever more work for designers.

RelaxNews and Reuters

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