Louis Vuitton Braves Rain on Its Italian Island Paradise

Bad weather was likely not top of mind when the storied luxury label chose Isola Bella as the venue for its Cruise 2024 collection. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Bad weather was likely not top of mind when the storied luxury label chose Isola Bella as the venue for its Cruise 2024 collection. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
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Louis Vuitton Braves Rain on Its Italian Island Paradise

Bad weather was likely not top of mind when the storied luxury label chose Isola Bella as the venue for its Cruise 2024 collection. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Bad weather was likely not top of mind when the storied luxury label chose Isola Bella as the venue for its Cruise 2024 collection. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Louis Vuitton valiantly battled pounding rain on an Italian island paradise while presenting its cruise collection Wednesday night, the weather sending celebrity guests underneath umbrellas and dampening a hairdo or two.

But when you're the flagship brand within the powerhouse LVMH portfolio, with a guest list that includes Catherine Deneuve, Cate Blanchett and Emma Stone, what's a little rain?

Bad weather was likely not top of mind when the storied luxury label led by Nicolas Ghesquiere chose the tiny Isola Bella, a jewel of an island in the azure waters of Lake Maggiore, as an appropriately jaw-dropping venue for its Cruise 2024 collection, AFP said.

But the rain arrived nonetheless, forcing the show originally planned for the island's formal terraced gardens to take place within the baroque Palazzo Borromeo, still owned by the family of the same name whose noble ancestry dates to the 13th century.

"It's the one thing Nicolas can't control, is the weather," the editor-in-chief of Vogue Thailand, Ford Laosuksri, told AFP after the show, as guests lingered to sip bubbly while hoping (in vain) for the rain to stop.

Laosuksri was wearing a crocheted floral top and sandals -- an endearing if not foolhardy gesture amid the steady rain.

"I didn't want to ruin my velvet shoes," he confided.

Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton's artistic director since 2013, sent models through the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of the 17th-century palazzo in eclectic, futuristic creations for which he is celebrated.

Some looks recalled scuba gear adorned with avant garde ruffling, while others felt like fencers' uniforms, protective with thick quilting over the chest.

Fabric was cinched tight like an accordion at the bodice of a sleeveless dress with color blocks in royal blue and yellow gold, imparting texture and movement, while a shiny black dress came with a drawstring neckline that called to mind a popular handbag by the brand.

Sweaters became more airy with a translucent stripe at the midriff, while three chiffon gowns cut on the bias -- in dusty pink, sea green and baby blue -- sported exaggerated puffy sleeves worthy of the Edwardian age.

"It was beautiful, it was flowy but still powerful," said Philippine actress Heart Evangelista.

From fishing to fashion

Louis Vuitton's event was the first-ever fashion show allowed on Isola Bella, a former fishing village transformed by the Borromeos into a sumptuous paradise fit for royalty.

Kings, queens and emperors have been guests at Palazzo Borromeo over the years, including Queen Victoria, Napoleon and Josephine, and even Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1985.

On Wednesday celebrities and influencers from around the world -- including US actress Jennifer Connelly and Felix from K-Pop's Stray Kids -- descended on the island.

Trying not to slip, guests took cover under the transparent umbrellas provided by the brand before escaping into the palazzo.

Following the show, some guests stood on benches and posed for pictures under the watchful gaze of centuries of Borromeo elders whose portraits line the walls.

Cruise collections are designed to offer warm-weather wardrobes for jet-setters lucky enough to escape to sunny locales during the drab winter months. In recent years, they have become destination events, with brands choosing more and more exotic spots to backdrop their luxury looks.

Louis Vuitton's show comes on the heels of Dior's, which showed a Frida Kahlo-inspired cruise collection in Mexico City Saturday, and Chanel's earlier this month at Hollywood's Paramount Studios.



Hermes Q1 Sales Jump 17% on Growth Across Regions

(FILES) An employee holds a USD129,000 crocodile Hermes Birkin Bag for the press to see during a private opening for the new Hermes store on Wall Street in New York 21 June 2007. (Photo by Timothy A. CLARY / AFP)
(FILES) An employee holds a USD129,000 crocodile Hermes Birkin Bag for the press to see during a private opening for the new Hermes store on Wall Street in New York 21 June 2007. (Photo by Timothy A. CLARY / AFP)
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Hermes Q1 Sales Jump 17% on Growth Across Regions

(FILES) An employee holds a USD129,000 crocodile Hermes Birkin Bag for the press to see during a private opening for the new Hermes store on Wall Street in New York 21 June 2007. (Photo by Timothy A. CLARY / AFP)
(FILES) An employee holds a USD129,000 crocodile Hermes Birkin Bag for the press to see during a private opening for the new Hermes store on Wall Street in New York 21 June 2007. (Photo by Timothy A. CLARY / AFP)

Birkin bag maker Hermes reported a 17% surge in first-quarter sales on Thursday, sustaining a rapid growth rate from the previous quarter and underlining strong demand for high end luxury.
Sales rose to 3.81 billion euros ($4.08 billion) for the three months to March 31 and beat expectations for a 13% rise, according to consensus provider Visible Alpha.
One of the most consistent performers in the luxury goods sector, Hermes is known for its ability to maintain strong growth even in the face of deteriorating economic conditions.
Its first-quarter growth far outpaced larger rival LVMH , underlining the strength of businesses operating in the top end of the market and defying broader weakness in key market China.
Sales updates from several leading luxury groups including LVMH and Kering have offered little reassurance that Chinese demand for high-end fashion is bouncing back, Reuters reported.
Hermes, which sells handbags priced at more than $10,000, said its sales in Asia excluding Japan grew 14%, and all other regions reported double-digit rises.
The company saw "slightly softer" traffic in China in March following the Chinese New Year holiday, Eric du Halgouet, executive vice-president finance, told journalists.
However strong demand from wealthier clients offset a reduction in purchases by those seeking more affordable silk items and fashion accessories, he said.


Prada Outshines Rivals with 16% Revenue Lift Boosted by Miu Miu

The logo of fashion house Prada is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. (Reuters)
The logo of fashion house Prada is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. (Reuters)
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Prada Outshines Rivals with 16% Revenue Lift Boosted by Miu Miu

The logo of fashion house Prada is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. (Reuters)
The logo of fashion house Prada is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. (Reuters)

Italy's Prada defied a slowdown across the luxury sector in the first quarter, reporting booming demand for its high fashion brand Miu Miu and continued growth in Asia.

Family-owned Prada on Wednesday reported sales up 16% to 1.19 billion euros ($1.27 billion) at constant exchange rates, slightly above a 1.14 billion euro consensus cited by analysts.

Its performance contrasts with that of Gucci-owner Kering. The French group on Tuesday forecast a 40% to 45% plunge in first-half operating profit, after first-quarter sales declined. LVMH's sales grew 3% in the first quarter.

For Prada, Europe and Asia Pacific, and in particular Japan, drove the sales growth, while the Americas lagged.

In a post-results conference call Prada echoed comments of other luxury brands saying Chinese shoppers were travelling more and spending more abroad in places like Japan and Europe, reducing sales at home in the holiday period.

Among its brands, flagship label Prada's retail sales grew by 7% in the January-March period, while Miu Miu, which contributes around 15% of total sales, posted an 89% increase.

"Over the first quarter, we delivered a solid performance in a more challenging market environment," Prada Group Chairman Patrizio Bertelli said in a statement.

"While the industry is experiencing new dynamics, we retain our ambition to deliver solid, sustainable and above market growth," Chief Executive Andrea Guerra said.

Guerra told an analyst call that the luxury industry had entered a new phase where strong creativity and a brand's positioning and desirability would drive performance.

He added that the sales trend in April was similar to that seen in the first quarter.

A dual listing, which was expected in Milan, is still on the agenda though not a priority at the moment, CFO Andrea Bonini told analysts, dismissing a press report about a possible triple listing.

The group is not planning to add additional shops this year, while 10-15 store openings for Miu Miu are slated for 2025, and five to 10 for Prada.

Prada shares rose 2.2% on the Hong Kong stock exchange before the results. Since the beginning of January the stock has risen around 37%.


From Milan to Riyadh... Marangoni International Institute to Open in 2025

Officials are seen at the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo: Turki al-Okaili)
Officials are seen at the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo: Turki al-Okaili)
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From Milan to Riyadh... Marangoni International Institute to Open in 2025

Officials are seen at the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo: Turki al-Okaili)
Officials are seen at the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo: Turki al-Okaili)

Istituto Marangoni, one of the top fashion universities in Milan, unveiled a strategic partnership with the Saudi Fashion Commission to establish an institute in Riyadh in 2025.

The announcement came during a press conference in the Saudi capital on Tuesday, in the presence of Deputy Minister of Culture Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez.

According to a statement, the institute’s mission in the Kingdom is to open new horizons for developing local talent, empowering women, and enhancing employment with the aim to transform the fashion sector into a dynamic market for young consumers and innovators in the digital world. The institute will be accredited by the Saudi Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC).

The institute aims to provide academic services designed to boost career paths in the fields of fashion, business and luxury management. The main academic program includes a 3-year advanced diploma, and is available in specific basic areas, such as fashion product design and management, creative direction, perfume and cosmetics management and interior design.

Officials underlined the importance of this partnership, which they said reflected efforts to bolster foreign investments in the Kingdom.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Chief Executive Officer of the Fashion Commission of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture Burak Cakmak said the partnership with the Marangoni Institute was a good indicator of the foreign investors’ interest to work in the fashion sector in the Kingdom.

He added that the authority has worked over the past three years on many aspects to empower the sector, including identifying local brands, providing programs to professionalize business, and supporting talent at the international and local levels, leading to the launch of Fashion Week in Riyadh in October last year.

Managing Director of Istituto Marangoni Stefania Valenti explained that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has encouraged the institute to work with the Kingdom, pointing to the presence of a consistent program led by the Saudi Fashion Commission.

Moreover, she added that the growth of local and international brands in the Saudi market requires ready creative management.


Kering’s Shares Dive 9% as Gucci Falters 

A logo of fashion house Gucci is seen outside a shop in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo of fashion house Gucci is seen outside a shop in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Kering’s Shares Dive 9% as Gucci Falters 

A logo of fashion house Gucci is seen outside a shop in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo of fashion house Gucci is seen outside a shop in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)

Shares in French luxury group Kering fell by as much as 9.3% in early trade on Wednesday, to their lowest level in over 6 years, as the market digested news of a likely 40%-45% plunge in first-half operating profit.

First-quarter sales at Kering declined 10%, the company reported after the market close on Tuesday, as wealthy shoppers curbed spending on products from its star label Gucci, reflecting a wider slowdown in luxury buying.

In the all-important Chinese market, a property crisis and high youth unemployment have weighed on Chinese shoppers' appetite for high end fashion and the company does not expect much improvement in the second quarter, company executives told analysts.

So far this year, Kering's share price has lost around a fifth of its value.

Its dive on Wednesday to the lowest level since October 2017 put it on track for the biggest one-day drop since March 20, a day after a previous warning from Kering that dashed hopes it had stemmed sales declines at Gucci.

The century-old Italian fashion house, which accounts for half of group sales and two-thirds of profit, is undergoing an overhaul. Executives are seeking to reignite sales with an aesthetic reset, led by creative director Sabato de Sarno, and including an emphasis on leather goods.

Executives say that early products from the new Ancora collection, which include glossy Jackie bags and chunky, platform loafers, have been well received, but stores will not be fully stocked with the products until later this year.

Kering's performance dragged down other luxury companies, with Burberry - which is also revamping its brand - down 3%, while shares of larger rivals LVMH and Hermes were slightly lower, down 0.5% and 0.2% respectively.

While management is positive about margin recovery in the second half as the new Gucci collection becomes more available, analysts at JPMorgan said the execution risk was high.

"We think it is too early to turn more constructive on this turnaround journey," they said.


Russia Approves Deal for Hugo Boss to Sell Russian Business

A man walks his dog in a meadow, set in spring colors, outside Moscow, Russia, 23 April 2023. EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
A man walks his dog in a meadow, set in spring colors, outside Moscow, Russia, 23 April 2023. EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
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Russia Approves Deal for Hugo Boss to Sell Russian Business

A man walks his dog in a meadow, set in spring colors, outside Moscow, Russia, 23 April 2023. EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
A man walks his dog in a meadow, set in spring colors, outside Moscow, Russia, 23 April 2023. EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Russia's government commission on foreign asset sales has approved a deal for German fashion house Hugo Boss to sell its Russian business to retailer Stockmann, Interfax reported on Wednesday, citing a government official.
Hugo Boss did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hugo Boss, along with many retailers, temporarily suspended its retail business operations in Russia soon after Moscow dispatched its army to Ukraine in February 2022. It also said it had paused its e-commerce activities in the Russian market and stopped advertising.
Interfax cited Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Yevtukhov as saying that the government commission had approved the sale, with one of the conditions being all jobs are preserved.
The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, Interfax reported.


Italian Fashion House Valentino Suffers Drop in Profit in 2023

The logo of fashion house Valentino is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
The logo of fashion house Valentino is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
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Italian Fashion House Valentino Suffers Drop in Profit in 2023

The logo of fashion house Valentino is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco
The logo of fashion house Valentino is seen outside a shop in Milan, Italy, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco

Operating profit at Italian fashion house Valentino dropped 18% last year, to 99 million euros ($105.7 million), the company said on Tuesday.
Last year French luxury group Kering, which is struggling to revive sales at its star brand Gucci, bought a 30% stake in Valentino, with an option to purchase the whole of company's share capital by 2028.
Valentino added its 2023 revenues dropped 3% at constant exchange rate, to 1.35 billion euros ($1.44 billion).
Earlier this year Valentino hired former Gucci designer Alessandro Michele as creative director, after the departure of longtime incumbent Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Direct sales, which include e-commerce and represents 66% of total sales, rose 3% last year, boosted by a positive performance in Asia Pacific and Japan, the company said.
The second half of the year was challenging for the European market, while the Americas showed "encouraging signs" in the same period, the fashion house added.


British Retailer JD Sports to Buy US Rival Hibbett for $1.08 Billion

FILE PHOTO: JD Sports logo is seen on the exterior of a store in London, Britain, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/May James/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: JD Sports logo is seen on the exterior of a store in London, Britain, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/May James/File Photo
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British Retailer JD Sports to Buy US Rival Hibbett for $1.08 Billion

FILE PHOTO: JD Sports logo is seen on the exterior of a store in London, Britain, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/May James/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: JD Sports logo is seen on the exterior of a store in London, Britain, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/May James/File Photo

JD Sports Fashion has proposed to buy American athletic-fashion retailer Hibbett Inc for about $1.08 billion, the companies said on Tuesday, as the British sportswear retailer expands across the southeastern US.
JD Sports, Britain's largest sportswear retailer, will pay $87.50 per Hibbett share in cash, representing a premium of about 20% to the US firm's last closing price.
The Bury, Greater Manchester-based company said it expects to fund the deal and refinance Hibbett's existing debt through its existing US cash resources of $300 million and a $1 billion extension to its existing bank facilities.
The enlarged group would have combined revenues of about 4.7 billion pounds ($5.80 billion) in North America, JD Sports said, adding that the region's contribution to total sales would increase to about 40% from the current 32%.


Apparel Maker Gildan Recommends Two Browning West Nominees to Board

Representation photo: A model presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Collection by British designer Kim Jones for Dior fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 20 January 2023. (EPA)
Representation photo: A model presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Collection by British designer Kim Jones for Dior fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 20 January 2023. (EPA)
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Apparel Maker Gildan Recommends Two Browning West Nominees to Board

Representation photo: A model presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Collection by British designer Kim Jones for Dior fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 20 January 2023. (EPA)
Representation photo: A model presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Collection by British designer Kim Jones for Dior fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 20 January 2023. (EPA)

Gildan Activewear recommended the election of two Browning West nominees to its board on Monday, ahead of its annual and special shareholder meeting on May 28.
The Canadian clothing maker's board has been clashing with activist fund Browning West, which owns 5% of Gildan, following the ouster of co-founder and CEO Glenn Chamandy in December, Reuters said.
In January, Browning West escalated its fight with Gildan, expanding its list of board candidates to eight from five and called an annual and special shareholder meeting amid the ongoing dispute to replace a majority of its board members and reinstate Chamandy as CEO.
On Monday, the board recommended the election of Karen Stuckey and J.P. Towner, nominated by Browning West. It also appointed five new independent directors to its board effective May 1, 2024.
Gildan had said in March its board decided to put the company up for sale and is in talks with multiple bidders.
The company added on Monday that external interest in an acquisition persists and the process is ongoing.


Louis Vuitton Holds 'Voyager' Fashion Show in Shanghai

A logo of Louis Vuitton is displayed on a Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, March 30, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo of Louis Vuitton is displayed on a Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, March 30, 2024. (Reuters)
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Louis Vuitton Holds 'Voyager' Fashion Show in Shanghai

A logo of Louis Vuitton is displayed on a Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, March 30, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo of Louis Vuitton is displayed on a Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, March 30, 2024. (Reuters)

Louis Vuitton debuted its newly-labeled "Voyager" traveling show in Shanghai on Thursday night, showing off asymmetric hemlines and boxy leather vests in the country that is one of the brand's key markets.
More than 1,000 invitees, including international celebrities like Cate Blanchett and local stars such as Zhou Dongyu and Jackson Wang, took in the pre-fall collection designed by women's artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, Reuters said.
The show was held in the cavernous concrete expanse of the Atelier Deshaus-designed Long Museum, in the riverside West Bund art district. It included pieces made in collaboration with Beijing-based artist Sun Yitian, who painstakingly paints photographs of inflated plastic animals, including ducklings, cats and rabbits. Reprints of her works were incorporated into the opening designs of the show.
In the days leading up to the show, images of Sun's work popped up around Shanghai, China's most international city, projected onto the exterior of malls and plastering walls in hip shopping and lifestyle districts.
For Louis Vuitton, the largest luxury brand in the LVMH stable, China continues to represent one of the world's most important luxury opportunities, even as a broader economic slowdown and consumer malaise stymie growth.
LVMH said on Tuesday that year-on-year sales for the quarter ending in March rose 3% on an organic basis, but purchases by Chinese shoppers globally grew 10%.
Last year, Louis Vuitton's men's line, helmed by Pharell Williams, staged a large-scale show in Hong Kong.


L’Oreal Shares Shine After Sales Beat Expectations 

A cosmetic display of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen at a duty free shop at the Nice International Airport, in Nice, France, October 10, 2018. (Reuters)
A cosmetic display of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen at a duty free shop at the Nice International Airport, in Nice, France, October 10, 2018. (Reuters)
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L’Oreal Shares Shine After Sales Beat Expectations 

A cosmetic display of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen at a duty free shop at the Nice International Airport, in Nice, France, October 10, 2018. (Reuters)
A cosmetic display of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen at a duty free shop at the Nice International Airport, in Nice, France, October 10, 2018. (Reuters)

Shares in L'Oreal rose more than 4% in early Friday trading after the French cosmetics giant beat expectations with a strong rise in first quarter sales on Thursday evening, allaying concerns about a slowdown in the United States.

L'Oreal shares were up 5.0% at 0745 GMT having lost 6% this year up to Thursday's close.

"A rock solid quarter, despite concerns," said analysts at Barclays. While L'Oreal did acknowledge a slowdown in the United States, it "comfortably surprised to the upside," both in the US and Europe, they said.

The world's biggest beauty company reported more than 12% sales growth in both North America and Europe, lifted by its mass market range and dermatological products, which helped offset weakness in the luxury segment.

"L'Oreal delivered a strong beat," Bernstein analysts wrote in a note to investors.

They noted L'Oreal's ability to shift investments in advertising and promotions to different parts of the world and across categories and demographics, enabling it to optimize global growth and make it more resilient.