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Hermes Denies Any Gaultier Plans To Quit

Godfrey Deeny
August 26th, 2009 @ 00:00 AM - Paris

Hermes and Jean Paul Gaultier have vehemently denied recent reports on the Internet that the French designer was planning to quit his position as creative director of women’s wear for the luxury label.

The termination rumor first surfaced late last week, when both Gaultier’s fashion house and Hermes were largely understaffed. Like most French luxury businesses they take off most of August for vacation.

However, today in Paris Hermes released a statement that read: “Hermes and Jean-Paul Gaultier have no intention of ending their fruitful collaboration. These rumors are without any foundation.”

Gaultier first signed with Hermes back in May 2003, when he succeeded Belgian Martin Margiela, Hermes' first creative director for women’s ready-to-wear. The Frenchman made his Hermes runway debut in March 2004, and has since designed 10 more collecitons for the illustrious luxury brand.

Hermes had already acquired a one-third stake in Gaultier’s house back in 1999, subsequently raising that to 45 percent. The designer retains control of his own brand with a 55 percent stake.

Gaultier, who has designed tour costumes for Madonna and Kylie Minougue, is currently busy creating the outfits for French rock star Mylene Farmer, including an ensemble wearing his signature Parisian trench coats. The singer’s European tour climaxes with a concert in Paris’ Grand Stade on Sept. 12, Farmer’s birthday.

The designer could not be reached for comment, but he told his publicist Jelka Music that the rumors are “absolutely not true. I have no idea where this sort of stuff comes from on the Web.”

The 57-year-old Gaultier will present his next collection for Hermes in October during the next Paris ready-to-wear season when he will also stage his own signature collection.

Gaultier’s tenure at Hermes is generally regarded as a success. Most independent designers appointed creative directors of famed luxury brands do not last in their positions as long as a half decade, as Gaultier has achieved. Moreover, Hermes financial figures have been steady even in the midst of the current recession.

Hermes enjoyed a 7.6 percent rise in group sales in the first half of 2009 to 874.9 million euros, or $1.234 billion at then exchange rates. And its fashion and accessories grew by 12.7 percent to 77.9 million euros, or $110 million in the same period.

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