End of Galliano affair – but the fighting goes on

From Dior to Hermès, the Paris fashion scene is feeling the pressure of big business

Paris

Anyone labouring under the delusion that twice-yearly designer ready-to-wear collections are simply a show-case for the world's most beautiful clothes would do well to scratch the glossy surface and find there is a lot more to this multibillion-pound fashion industry.

Last week's sacking of John Galliano was testimony to fashion's economic and political importance. Christian Dior's chief executive, Sidney Toledano, was quick to assure his audience that it's business as usual. But parent company, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) is also the majority shareholder in John Galliano's signature line – and the future of the smaller label is more uncertain.

Galliano's own collection was unveiled yesterday and it was a less audacious and more melancholic occasion than usual. Only a handful of models made their way around the salon of a town house in Avenue Foch in a comparatively restrained manner.

But if the designer himself was conspicuous by his absence, his presence was very much felt in the clothes. These were quintessential John Galliano: coquettish and curvaceous boucle-wool tailoring trimmed with oversized bows and tufted hems, followed by the waterfall-ruffled chiffon gowns with which Galliano made his name. Whether John Galliano is ever likely to recover from last week's scandal remains to be seen. But this presentation proved that, for all his troubles, this is one of the great designers of our time.

Christophe Lemaire's debut collection for Hermès shown earlier in the day was, on the face of it, serene by comparison. It included loose-fitting coats, tunics and trousers in warm shades of toffee, caramel and racing green leather; voluminous silks in brighter hues of emerald and orange, and the odd nod to aristocratic pursuits: a snow hawk sat blinking on one model's arm; another came out carrying a Hermès bow and arrow.

The well-mannered nature of the event belied the fact that in-fighting and intrigue are rife at Hermès, and LVMH is at the heart of it. Last year, Bernard Arnault, LVMH's founder, announced he had amassed a 17.1 per cent stake in Hermès, taking family descendants – who between them own the majority – by surprise. Not long after, his stake rose to 20.2 per cent.

Although Mr Arnault insists he has no intention of acquiring a controlling stake in Hermès, speculators agree that if the current generation of family members might be reluctant to sell their shares, their heirs may be more amenable. And so, Hermès is fighting back: a holding company has been created, grouping more than 50 per cent of Hermès's capital and thereby granting family members first rights to buy shares from one another.

Last Friday, meanwhile, chief executive Patrick Thomas said: "I will not hide from you that personally, I think delisting would make sense." He added, much to his audience's surprise: "If you want to seduce a beautiful woman, you don't start by raping her from behind."

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
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

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    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