Louis Vuitton has appointed Nicolas Ghesquière as its artistic director of women’s fashion as it seeks to inject fresh creativity into the French fashion house and counter softening sales.
Mr Ghesquière is to replace Marc Jacobs, who stood down from the post last month after 16 years at the creative helm at the luxury brand.
Until last year, Mr Ghesquière worked at Balenciaga, which is owned by Kering, a direct competitor of Louis Vuitton. Balenciaga is suing him for alleged breach of a confidentiality clause after his departure.
In a statement on Monday, Louis Vuitton, which forms the core of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, described Mr Ghesquière as “one of today’s greatest talents” and said that his arrival would “bring a modern creative vision”.
It added that his first women’s collection would be presented in Paris next March.
Mr Ghesquière, who left his previous post at Balenciaga following serious disagreements, said that he was “honoured” to take up his new position. “Together we will build the future of the brand,” he said.
The 42-year-old French designer, the son of a Belgian golf course owner, comes to Louis Vuitton at a time of upheaval.
The departure of Mr Jacobs last month to concentrate on his own brand was the latest in a series of reshuffles that have seen the appointment of Michael Burke as LV’s chief executive and, in June this year, the appointment of Delphine Arnault as the brand’s second-in-command.
Ms Arnault is the daughter of Bernard Arnault, the French billionaire who controls LVMH.
Industry observers say the management shake-up is part of an ongoing effort by LVMH to refresh the brand’s strategy by taking Louis Vuitton further upmarket.
Recent shopping trends have indicated growing consumer disenchantment around logo-centric luxury fashion and accessories, weighing heavily on Louis Vuitton and its core product offerings.
A crackdown in China as the government curtails officials’ hitherto generous personal spending on themselves and on gifts has also contributed to slowing sales growth.
Last month, LVMH, which also includes the Dior brands and Céline, said that revenue across its divisions was €7bn between July and the end of September. That was only slightly above the €6.9bn reported in the same period last year and below the €7.24bn that analysts were expecting.
Its fashion and leather division – for which Louis Vuitton makes up the majority of sales – reported a drop in revenue.
Analysts attributed the short-term sales decline to the brand’s introduction of new and pricier leather bags, including the Capucines model, which retails for around €3,500.
The group’s shares fell more than 6 per cent the day after it published those results, knocking about €4bn of its market capitalisation.