PARIS, France – We don't actively engage in the rumour mill here on BoF, but when the whispers involve Karl Lagerfeld, Olivier Theyskens and Alber Elbaz in a Lanvin and Chanel merry-go-round, it seems worthwhile to engage in a bit of Friday afternoon fashion speculation.
Today, Diane Pernet has published a bombshell post outlining this scenario:
"This is not a fact until you officially read it somewhere else but rumour has it that Karl Lagerfeld will not renew his contract at Chanel and that Alber Elbaz will take his place and Olivier Theyskens will take Alber's place at Lanvin...Nothing is engraved in cement, these are still just rumours you will have to wait and see."
Of course, fashion observers have long wondered what will happen at Chanel (and Fendi, for that matter) when Lagerfeld's seemingly endless energy finally runs out. For Elbaz, or any top fashion designer for that matter, the Chanel post would be a dream job as it is one of the most coveted design roles in the fashion world.
That said, this all seems a bit suspect to me. And as Diane says, these are only rumours.
Word has it that Elbaz has a significant ownership stake in Lanvin, making it hard to believe that he would walk away from all that upside, especially now that sales at Lanvin are up 29 percent and the brand is on the ascendant, even in the current economic environment. What's more, private equity and strategic investors have been circling the buoyant French brand for months now, and there is potentially a big payout to be had for Mr. Elbaz–but only if he sticks it out and, I suspect, only if he stays on as Creative Director.
In other revolving designer news, WWD is reporting today that Esteban Cortazar is the latest designer to clash with Mounir Moufarrige at Ungaro, prompting the young designer to walk out of his role. This will not come as a surprise to long-time readers of The Business of Fashion. When Cortazar was first appointed, a raging debate took place about his suitability for the role and about Moufarrige's apparent inability to effectively work with top creative talent. If the news of Cortazar's departure are true, this will be the third designer to walk out on Moufarrige: Giambattista Valli, Peter Dundas and now, Esteban Cortazar.
UPDATE: As expected, both Chanel and Lanvin have denied these rumours and so, alas, Karl Lagerfeld and Alber Elbaz are both staying put. For now.
Imran Amed is Editor of The Business of Fashion