Séverine Merle is chief executive of Celine, having overseen the introduction of Hedi Slimane as the house’s creative, artistic and image director in early 2018, along with his rebranding of the label following Phoebe Philo ’s departure in 2017.
The French executive studied at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, commonly known as Sciences Po, between 1986 and 1989, and the Université Paris Dauphine between 1991 and 1992. She then studied an MBA at ESSEC Business School, graduating in 1994, from which she joined Le Bon Marché working on the global repositioning of the department store. There, she evolved with broadening roles before becoming commercial and image director.
After 14 years at Le Bon Marché, Merle moved to Louis Vuitton as the worldwide merchandising director and then general manager for France. In 2014, she started at Berluti as the brand’s executive vice president before becoming chief executive of Celine in 2017, succeeding Marco Gobbetti after he left the company in 2016 to take up the same position at Burberry. In taking on this position, she became the third female CEO of an LVMH brand.
In January 2019, after the appointment of Hedi Slimane as artistic, creative and image director, the brand orchestrated its first official foray into menswear. Celine has 165 stores worldwide and the first Celine menswear boutique opened on Rue François 1er in Paris, near the brand’s Avenue Montaigne store that will remain solely dedicated to womenswear. “Menswear is a new vector for growth; womenswear will remain the most important part,” Merle told the Financial Times in January 2019.
In May 2019, Merle was appointed president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine, succeeding Sidney Toledano , chairman of LVMH Fashion Group, who served two terms in the position.