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LVMH Financing Gareth Pugh Shows

Godfrey Deeny
January 27th, 2009 @ 6:45 PM - Paris

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods group, has began financing shows by Gareth Pugh, the young UK Goth designer, with an eye to a possible future appointment or partnership with one of the conglomerate’s dozen fashion brands.

“We’ve been helping with his shows. That’s what we always do, support new talent” LVMH’s chairman and key shareholder Bernard Arnault told FWD.

“He’s an interesting designer, and it’s to good to support him. Don’t ask me for the exact amount. But LVMH does that with many talented people, even musicians,” Arnault added back stage at Christian Dior’s haute couture show.

Dior is one possible destination for Pugh. Sources at LVMH claim that Pugh has met executives at the French group’s headquarters.

The French are believed to have extended a low, five figure sum to the Sunderland-born, 27-year-old Pugh for his Paris Sunday evening show, his debut men’s runway collection.

Pugh’s name has been bandied about for months as a possible replacement for Kriss Van Assche at Dior Homme. His candidacy is understood to have been advanced by Karl Lagerfeld, who sent Pugh congratulatory flowers on his Paris women’s debut in September.

Lagerfeld attends all Van Assche’s shows for Dior Homme, a cousin LVMH company of Fendi where Lagerfeld is creative director. But the pencil silhouette Lagerfeld is understood to be less than enamored by Van Assche’s obsessions with wide, Gaucho pants.

Adding to the talk, Arnault’s daughter Delphine sat front row at the Pugh show, which attracted all the right editors and a gang of high-powered retailers.

However, Van Assche’s sales figures have not been a disaster, so no immediate change is expected there. Dior CEO Sidney Toledano denied even meeting Pugh. But given the market, who knows?

On Sunday, Pugh displayed peak shouldered coats – phantasmagorical redingotes worn with matching boots, ingenious, eye-overhanging, feather skull caps, courtesy of the great London hatter Stephen Jones and lots of his signatures - patchwork squares or Perspex disc chain mail style.

Asked about the suggestion that his dream-like, clubbing fashion might be hard to translate into “real” clothes, Pugh said backstage: “I’m not trying to do that. I’m trying to be myself. I don’t think the point is to convince lots of people. It’s to make something that’s true to me. That’s good.”

“I’m a young designer and at this stage I am meant to make what I see,” added Pugh, whose partner is Michelle Lamy, significant other of Rick Owens, the LA designer transplanted to France, whose style and Pugh’s have similar Gothic inspirations.

Said Owens, “Michelle is involved like a proud caring mother, I’m more there as a stern and distant father.”

LVMH and Arnault are aware of the media attention that enfant terrible designers can wield and have John Galliano at Dior and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, their two biggest fashion labels.

The move is the latest example of luxury groups thinking more long-term; getting an attention-winning and already influential designer in their orbit and sensing when they are ready for the demanding rigors of running a big time Paris house. Few are.

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* LVMH Scores 13% Rise in First Half 2006 Sales

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* Versus Hires Jonathan Anderson

* Cacharel Unveils New CEO, in Major Corporate Revamp


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