Fashion house Celine says 2009 year of transition

Mon Oct 5, 2009 2:14pm EDT
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

PARIS (Reuters) - French fashion house Celine, owned by luxury goods group LVMH, has been holding off opening new stores this year and hopes collections from creative director Phoebe Philo will underpin sales from 2010.

Philo, named creative director last year, had her catwalk debut in Paris on Monday. She presented short, A-line dresses paired with wedges. The palette was paired down to white, black and earth tones.

"This year is a year of transition. We will have a new start next year with the arrival of Phoebe's new collections," managing director Marco Gobbetti told Reuters, adding Celine, which has 95 stores worldwide, may open more next year.

"The crisis has affected a lot of people. We are not an exception ... Celine has suffered like the market has and exceptional brands like Vuitton that have strong brand awareness can navigate the crisis better than others," he said.

"We need to reinforce what we have, products, brand identity ... We will redo a lot of the stores, give them a new identity," Gobetti said.

LVMH head Bernard Arnault has said some top brands, like Louis Vuitton, have not been hit as much by the crisis as others.

Gobbetti did not give financial figures for the fashion house, saying only Celine would meet objectives in 2009. With regard to markets, he said he hoped the United States would be a fast-growing area for the brand.

Celine, founded in 1945 by Celine Vipiana, was originally created as a made-to-measure children's shoe business that eventually grew into women's shoes and accessories. The ready-to-wear line debuted in the 1960s.

It has had four head designers since 1997.

(Additional reporting by Mathilde Gardin; Editing by Dan Lalor)