On Saturday night, I carpooled to a party with a friend who is as close to Paris as you can be while living in Los Angeles, and we spent quite a while dissecting the Alessandro Michele-LVMH rumors, which were holding strong within the halls of Fendi and Dior, where employees whispered mostly over WhatsApp. The last time there was so much interest in a designer’s future had to be in the weeks prior to Hedi Slimane’s appointment at Celine. (Like I’ve told you before, everyone was convinced he was headed to Dior.)
At this point, the likelihood that Michele news is announced by the end of the year at one of these houses is fairly high. There are rumors coming from people close to Kim Jones (who designs the Fendi women’s collection and the Dior men’s collection) that Michele is already installed at Fendi, while Dior employees are convinced that the former Gucci designer is headed their way.
In either scenario, I suspect that Michele would not do it unless he was designing both men’s and women’s. In the past, LVMH has often divided those roles. At Louis Vuitton, for instance, there are creative directors in men’s, women’s, and jewelry. At Dior, there are different visions for men’s, women’s, home and baby, jewelry, and beauty. Hermès, the arch rival, operates in a similar fashion. But while that way of organizing is still effective at a leather-goods-first brand—the personality is the bag, not the clothes—it’s becoming more challenging at a fashion-driven label, like Dior, in particular, or at a smaller house like Fendi (under $3 billion in sales, according to analyst estimates), which is known historically as a furrier and currently as the maker of a couple wildly popular handbags.