A life of luxury: Delphine Arnault is made to measure for the house of Vuitton

Bernard Arnault’s choice of daughter Delphine to take over the world’s greatest luxury brand stable is a smart move

If ever someone was born to do a job, it’s Delphine Arnault. Forget François Hollande; her father, Bernard, is arguably France’s most influential man – not to mention its richest. As the head of the fashion and luxury brands conglomerate LVMH, he holds consumer aspirations the world over in his palm. And now he’s preparing to hand it all over to his oldest child.

At least that’s the most plausible explanation for his decision to appoint his daughter to one of the group’s most high-profile roles: executive vice-president of its Louis Vuitton brand. Ms Arnault’s elevation has long been a question of when, and not if, but if that sounds like a classic case of fashion industry nepotism, industry experts stress that that is not the case.

As the deputy managing director of Christian Dior, one of the 60-plus brands that make up the LVMH empire, Ms Arnault, 38, more than proved herself, most notably by ensuring the legendary couture house survived the horror that was its then chief designer John Galliano’s anti-Semitic rant in 2011. Indeed, coaxing the feted Raf Simons to step into Galliano’s discredited shoes was quite a coup, with his show for Dior in March hailed the hit of Paris Fashion Week.

Sophie Goodwin, the fashion editor at Tatler magazine, said: “Simons was the brave choice; not the obvious one, but Delphine pushed him to the fore and he has been a resounding success. Galliano could have exploded for Dior, but the brand has gone forwards not backwards.”

She added: “She won’t take credit though. She likes to take a back seat. But she’s really well respected and incredibly hard working.”

This might sound like a classic fashion love-in, but it’s a view that influential City analysts, paid to advise investors whether or not to buy a stock, are only too happy to back up.

Luca Solca, at Exane BNP Paribas, said: “Supervising Louis Vuitton is the most visible, crucial and important position at LVMH. I see this as a big vote of confidence by Mr Arnault, in both his daughter and the brand. Dior has been a continuing success, with significant developments in fragrances and cosmetics, where it has reached number one in many markets.”

He said investors knew what they were getting when they bought shares in a group controlled by Mr Arnault. “This is a family controlled company, right? Delphine is destined for the top, and will have the help of her father. As well as an army of competent people working below them.” 

Nicola Ko, a luxury brands analyst at Ledbury Research, said it “made sense” for Ms Arnault to succeed her father, rather than for him to appoint a third party. “It would almost be foolish for him not to hand it on to her,” she said, citing continuity as the main reason. “Having a strong family feel is important for luxury brands.”

Once installed at Louis Vuitton after the summer, Ms Arnault will provide a rare female voice at the top of the £70bn trendsetting empire. Only one of the 15 people that sit on the group’s executive committee below her father is a woman, Chantal Gaemperle, and she is in charge of human resources.

Elsewhere in the industry, women are still more likely to hold senior creative roles than executive ones: Frida Giannini, for example,  is the creative director of the fashion house Gucci.

Ms Arnault, who will oversee all product-related activities, beat her younger brother, Antoine, to the coveted post. He remains at the men’s brand Berluti, also part of LVMH. Not that he will hold it against his sister, his elder by two years. The pair, who are from Bernard’s first marriage, struck a pact many years ago that, no matter what, they would never let personal rivalry – or LVMH – tear them apart. “We talked about how we needed to remain close, even in difficult times, that our individual destinies would have to take second place to what my father created,” Antoine has said, adding: “We’re very respectful of that strategy. Many companies have exploded because the heirs couldn’t agree.”

In the wings: family firms

Roberta Armani, 43, is the niece of the famous Giorgio. She has worked for her 78-year-old uncle for more than 20 years and embodies a new, glitzier version of the famous Italian fashion house. 

Kristina Blahnik, 39, is another niece; this time of the shoe maestro Manolo. As managing director, a role she inherited from her mother, she has helped to transform his business into a global powerhouse.

David Lauren, 42, is senior vice-president, advertising, marketing and corporate communications at Polo Ralph Lauren. He is the second of Ralph Lauren’s three children, and has been at  Polo since 2000.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Guru Careers: Creative Director / Head of Creative

    £65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful IT reseller bas...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer / Technical Sales Representative - OTE £35k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the Country's leading di...

    Recruitment Genius: Logistics Coordinator - Part-Time

    £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence