Dior struggles to find the right fit in its search for a designer

Fri May 6, 2016 4:52pm EDT
 
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - Christian Dior (DIOR.PA: Quote), one of the world's biggest and most famous fashion brands, is struggling to find a creative director more than six months after the abrupt departure of Raf Simons.

People familiar with the discussions say part of the reason his seat is still vacant is the limited control offered by the 70-year-old label compared with similar roles at rivals such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Coach.

"Often when a creative director leaves, it is because he did not get enough control," said one fashion communications guru who has worked for big brands including Givenchy, and who declined to be named.

Simons is expected to get much more leeway at Calvin Klein, part of PVH Corp (PVH.N: Quote), where he should start working in a few months, fashion industry sources have said.

Adding to its woes, Dior's sales growth has stalled in recent months, reflecting a fall in tourism to Europe after the Paris and Brussels attacks and weaker demand in some key Asian markets.

Main shareholder Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, wants a proven quantity to steer the label famous for its cinch-waisted Bar jacket, head-hunters and fashion executives say, but the talent pool of potential replacements is small.

A further problem is that most designers are prevented by their contracts from working for a rival for up to a year.

Candidates who have been seriously considered include Alber Elbaz, credited with resuscitating the Lanvin brand but sacked in October after trying to bring in external investors.   Continued...

 
Ralph Toledano, head of fashion brands Nina Ricci and Jean-Paul Gaultier, poses during an interview with Reuters in Paris, April 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann