Okay, don’t actually forget about Delphine and Antoine. She is probably going to inherit the big job on a platter while Antoine’s business acumen will swerve from one brand to the next making sure they all perform outstandingly. Delphine on the throne makes sense. She has been a key figure of LVMH for almost two decades now. Her first big promotion happened in 2008 when she became a top executive at the group’s jewel, Christian Dior Couture, before joining the golden goose Louis Vuitton. She was quick to spot Jonathan Anderson and support young talents by launching the coveted LVMH Prize. As soon as 2007, Antoine was behind Louis Vuitton’s communication strategies. He subsequently launched the LVMH Special Days during which brands showcase their craftsmanship to the public. He’s then moved from Vuitton to Berluti as CEO and is chairman of Loro Piana, two of the most uber-luxe houses owned by LVMH. The press has been gagging over who would succeed Bernard Arnault for quite some time now. But in this not-so-improbable scenario, both Delphine and Antoine could crown young Alexandre. That is if egos don’t get in the way as one remembers it is the Vuitton and Hennessy rivalries that led to Bernard Arnault’s rise to power. In businesses of this scale, fellowship is a necessity for survival.
It is no secret that Bernard Arnault himself has been training Alexandre very early on. Bernard and second wife Hélène Arnault have two other children: 23-year-old Frédéric who helms a technology department at watchmaker Tag Heuer, and 19-year-old student Jean. Alexandre, the 26-year-old co-CEO of 120-year-old luxury luggage maker Rimowa is said to have a knack for business — he’s supposedly the one who spotted Rimowa’s potential in the first place, and has been a prominent auxiliary in developing the digital and technological strategy of the group. Indeed, prior to Rimowa, Alexandre had been moving pawns, bringing in Ian Rogers from Apple. Under his leadership, Rimowa gained incredible street-cred, partnering with almighty Supreme, design studio M/M, Fendi, and with Virgil “emperor of cool” Abloh’s Off-White (Louis Vuitton’s new menswear head). The latter collaboration is a smart take on transparency, literally and figuratively, social media culture from Abloh, a man epoxied to his smartphone. What is too much to share? Social media already stripped us down, so why not offer more. Being a millennial with a generation Z mind is Alexander’s strength. He’s proved an ability to understand markets and has single-handedly reshaped the German brand, a total overhaul including a new logo, new distribution methods, modern digital branding strategies. The young man’s astute vision sets Rimowa in a race to reach the 1 billion revenue milestone sooner than later.
Bernard Arnault has always said that the group CEO seat would go to the offspring showing the most capabilities. Could Alexandre Arnault, the middle child, be the one? Time will tell but it is also up to Delphine and Antoine to recognise Alexandre’s abilities and give him all of their knowledge and support.
Words by Pierre M’Pelé
For more information, see Off White x Rimowa