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PARIS (Reuters) - Lanvin has hired Bouchra Jarrar as its new designer five months after the abrupt dismissal of Alber Elbaz caused uncertainty about the future of France's oldest fashion house.
Paris-born of Moroccan descent, Jarrar, 45, is known for her black and white neo-classic outfits and feminine tuxedo jackets. She founded her eponymous house in 2010 and joined the prestigious club of Haute Couture designers in 2013.
Previously, Jarrar worked closely for a decade with former Balenciaga designer, Nicolas Ghesquiere, who is now at LVMH's Louis Vuitton, and at Christian Lacroix Couture.
Lanvin said on Friday Jarrar was going to close her own label to focus exclusively on the French fashion brand and would bring "a few" of her team with her.
Founded in 1889, Lanvin is known for its silk cocktail dresses adorned with chunky jewelry and it is one of the last remaining independent major luxury fashion brands in France together with Hermes.
Many industry specialists say Lanvin has the potential to be one of the industry's biggest fashion brands and could replicate the phenomenal success enjoyed by Valentino.
Several sources estimated Lanvin would need at least 100 million euros ($110 million) of investment to take its development to the next level. Lanvin has 36 directly operated stores around the world, a fraction of big brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton which each have hundreds.
Lanvin's controlling shareholder, Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang, has sold off many of its assets including its Japanese operations as well as its perfume business to perfume maker Interparfums.
Jarrar's priority, aside from infusing new creative life into Lanvin, will be to restore peace to a company where staff have been striking and in dispute with management since Elbaz's departure, sources told Reuters.
Wang had shocked the industry by sacking Elbaz, a fashion darling who had been at creative helm of Lanvin for 14 years.
Elbaz has a stake of nearly 18 percent in the business and is widely credited with having infused new life into it.
Tensions had grown between the two after Elbaz attracted bids for the company, worried that Wang was not investing enough in its international growth and product development, sources had told Reuters.
One bid for Lanvin had come last summer from Valentino's Qatari owners Mayhoola who had offered more than 400 million euros, the sources had said.
Lanvin's sales which were close to 240 million euros in 2012, have dropped to around 200 million euros, according to the company's official filing with France's companies' registry.
The brand's former chief executive, Thierry Andretta, now head of Mulberry, left in 2013 over strategic differences with Wang.
Lanvin's other minority shareholders include German investor Ralph Bartel, who owns 25 percent.
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Editing by Keith Weir and Alexander Smith