PARIS, France — French fashion house Chloé is set to name as its new creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi, second-in-command to Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière, sources told Reuters, as the industry braces for a fresh round of leadership changes.
Chloé's current creative director, Clare Waight Keller has decided not to renew her contract, which ends in March, sources said. Since her family moved back to London from Paris in June, she had been commuting between the two cities and wished to stop.
Analysts estimate Chloé, Richemont's biggest fashion brand, generates sales of around 400 million euros ($417.20 million). Richemont and Chloé declined to comment.
After a year marked by a series of reshuffles at labels including Hugo Boss, Kering's Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga and LVMH's Dior and Céline amid lower luxury spending, 2017 should see another round of musical chairs.
The departure of Louis Vuitton's Ramsay-Levi raises questions about the future inner workings of the design studio, headed by Ghesquière, who made his name at Balenciaga before joining Louis Vuitton in 2013.
The appointment would also mean disruption for Richemont-owned Chloé, as Ramsay-Levi is associated with modern looks involving hard fabrics such as leather and synthetics, at odds with the label's traditional flowing romantic silhouettes.
Citing the success of Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, fashion consultants argue that a new artistic direction, if thought out well, can be good for a brand because it gets consumers' attention and can help boost sales.
Industry sources have said Ghesquière could end his collaboration with Louis Vuitton before his contract was up for renewal, which LVMH said was in 2018.
Ghesquière told French TV channel Canal Plus last year he wished to create his own label but did not provide details.
In recent months, several fashion recruitment sources said Louis Vuitton executives were actively scouting for a replacement. LVMH and Louis Vuitton declined to comment on Ramsay-Levi's departure.
At Louis Vuitton, Ramsay-Levi was a key member of Ghesquière's team. As design director, she was the only person the studio's designers and assistants regularly spoke to, as Ghesquière rarely interacted with them directly, former studio employees told Reuters.
Ramsay-Levi, who worked more than a decade with Ghesquière at Balenciaga, on top of being his go-between, understood well his creative directions and translated them into concrete looks and products she asked designers to produce.
There has been high staff turnover at Louis Vuitton's design studio the past two years, partly due to the brand's long working hours and stressful environment, former employees have told Reuters.
Many studio staff are on three-month or one-month renewable contracts which prevents them from having days off or compensation for over-time.
Cartier owner Richemont said in November the French label "enjoyed a geographically broad-based double-digit growth rate (in half-year sales), largely driven by leather," helped by the popularity of the Drew and Faye leather bags.
By Astrid Wendlandt; editor: Louise Heavens.
BoF has reached out to Chloé and a spokesman said the company declines to comment on rumours.