It's been 16 years since Marc Jacobs took the helm of Louis Vuitton--a period of time that saw the introduction of ready-to-wear at Vuitton, collaborations with artists like Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami, and, not incidentally, sky-rocketing revenues. The partnership has been a success by all accounts--but, according to industry rumors, it could be coming to an end soon.
Jacobs's contract with LVMH is up in 2014 and, according to industry sources, the designer and his longtime business partner Robert Duffy, who are currently holding discussions with the luxury conglomerate, may not renew it, WWD is reporting. If Jacobs doesn't renew, many people feel there's only one person to fill his shoes: Nicolas Ghesquière, who WWD calls the "heir apparent" to Louis Vuitton. This confirms reports we've heard from our own sources.
At first we thought this was just crazy talk--but, actually, it makes sense that Jacobs might want to leave Louis Vuitton. After all, it's been 16 years shuttling between Paris and New York, designing 12 collections a year for Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc. Jacobs, who turned 50 in April, has certainly earned a break.
Another reason Jacobs might want to leave Vuitton is so he can focus on his own namesake brand. He and Duffy recently named Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley as creative director and design director of Marc by Marc's ready-to-wear, a sure investment in the contemporary brand's growth. And according to WWD's sources, one of the possibilities floated in Duffy's and Jacobs's discussions with LVMH, is for Marc Jacobs to split from the luxury conglomerate--and then go public. Jacobs's business is believed to be worth close to $1 billion--and if we've learned anything from Michael Kors's runaway success on the market, an IPO could certainly push Jacobs past the billion dollar mark. While WWD's source stressed that this negotiation was separate from Jacobs's Vuitton contract, it would make sense that one outcome might affect the other.
But don't freak out just yet: These are still all rumors at this point--neither Jacobs, Duffy, nor LVMH would comment on them. But, needless to say, stay tuned.
Update: A reliable source just reached out to us to say that Ghesquière and LVMH are "in serious negotiations" and that the designer is "definitely" in talks to succeed Jacobs.