With so many top-level shakeups at major fashion houses, we’ve come to expect the unexpected and we’re pretty sure no one could have predicted this (at least we were pretty shocked). LVMH has appointed Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, co-founders of specialty store Opening Ceremony, as the new creative directors of Kenzo, effective immediately. As in they are already in Paris piecing together some sort of a collection to present in some format this October.
This news is surprising for a variety of reasons, the first of which being that Kenzo already had a creative director, Antonio Marras, who seemed to be doing fine.
The brand, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, was doing well, but not everywhere, according to WWD, who reported dwindling sales in Kenzo’s traditional markets, but an increase in emerging countries like Russia and China.
Also initially surprising–that two retail store owners with no formal design training were chosen to take over the fashion house. Of course, they do oversee an in-house line, and a particularly successful one at that. The decision to bring on Carol and Humberto, who WWD refers to as “merchants,” was reportedly a strategic one. Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH’s fashion division, told WWD that on the business end, they do want to re-enter the American market from which they withdrew in 2003. “What we need now is something which has more energy, which is looking forward in terms of addressing a new generation,” Roussel told the trade.
Leon and Lim weren’t shoe-ins either. Roussel considered 25 candidates for the job, according to le Figaro. He said he wasn’t looking for a pure creative or a designer–especially not someone from couture. That Carol and Humberto are more than just designers, but also successful retailers, collaborators and business people, seems to be what made them attractive to Roussel. Roussel also told the French paper that the duo had signed a contract for “several years.” They are said to already be putting together a team of talent from a variety of backgrounds to realize Carol and Humberto’s vision.