We're only three months in, but for the fashion industry, 2016 has already proven to be a year defined by designer switch-ups — the most recent being Hedi Slimane exiting Saint Laurent, presumably to be replaced by Versus Versace's Anthony Vaccarello. And now it sounds like one of the few brands whose creative director hasn't left could instead get a new owner.
Valentino, which is owned by members of the Qatari royal family, has reportedly put forth an offer of €500 million (roughly $569 million) to acquire Pierre Balmain, French newspaper Les Echos reported Sunday. According to Les Echos's sources, both a Chinese group and an American investor have put in offers to purchase the French fashion house as well, though names were not provided. The heirs of Alain Hivelin — Balmain's founder, who passed away in 2014 — are said to have until Thursday to decide on which offer to accept, if any. Neither Valentino nor Balmain immediately responded to our requests for comment.
This doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering that WWD and Business of Fashion reported just last month that Balmain's heirs were seeking sale. In his five years at the helm, Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has brought democratization and increased awareness to Balmain with loyal celebrity ambassadors and a massive social media following. The house's sales have grown since his appointment, though not dramatically; it makes sense that the owners would want outside capital to expand the business, and that Balmain would be a hot ticket amongst buyers.
As for whether anything will come of these rumors, we'll get back to you on Thursday.