Fashion Week Brings Another Layer of Chaos to Paris

Pharrell Williams returns a year after his lavish debut as Louis Vuitton creative director. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
Pharrell Williams returns a year after his lavish debut as Louis Vuitton creative director. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
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Fashion Week Brings Another Layer of Chaos to Paris

Pharrell Williams returns a year after his lavish debut as Louis Vuitton creative director. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
Pharrell Williams returns a year after his lavish debut as Louis Vuitton creative director. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Paris Fashion Week returns on Tuesday, bringing some much-needed light relief to a country in the throes of political chaos.
Menswear week runs until next Sunday, followed immediately by the haute couture shows until June 27.
France has been in turmoil since President Emmanuel Macron called surprise legislative elections after a surge by the far-right in European polls, said AFP.
But for fashionistas, the biggest issue might be getting around Paris, which is also finalizing preparations to host next month's Olympic Games, with a tenfold increase in traffic congestion due to road and site closures.
The Olympics have brought the menswear and couture weeks forward from July (womenswear takes place in September).
With fashion already working at a punishing pace, that has forced some houses to abandon this season, including Olivier Rousteing's Balmain, which told AFP it had pulled out at the last minute.
Valentino and Givenchy are also skipping this week's shows.
As for the big names who are appearing, hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams will continue his high-profile leadership at Louis Vuitton, marking a year since his ultra-lavish debut show when he took over the Pont Neuf bridge and painted its paving stones gold.
But the highlight will be a mega-party organized by Vogue on Sunday bringing together the doubly lucrative worlds of sports and fashion.
It is the third edition of Vogue World -- a sort of traveling Met Gala that has already seen events in New York and London -- and comes as the brand seeks new ways to stay relevant in a world of dwindling magazine sales.
Several top brands will display collections, including Dior, Jacquemus, Hermes and Balenciaga, each paired with an Olympic discipline from athletics to breakdancing.
Chanel shock
There have been some big movements at the heads of fashion houses.
The biggest shock was the announcement last week that Chanel has dropped Virginie Viard, who worked for 20 years alongside her predecessor Karl Lagerfeld and took over after his death in 2019.
It appears the split was less than amicable, since Viard will not be present for Chanel's couture show on June 25, despite overseeing record sales for the brand last year.
"It will be a studio collection and Virginie Viard will not be present," a Chanel spokesperson told AFP.
The end of the Lagerfeld era has set off fashionistas' favorite pastime: speculating on who comes next.
Among the names circulating: France's Marine Serre, Hedi Slimane of Celine, Pierpaolo Piccioli (who recently left Valentino) and Simon Porte Jacquemus, whose eponymous label has been one of the big independent success stories of recent years.
While Valentino awaits the debut of its high-profile new creative director Alessandro Michele (formerly of Gucci), Givenchy is still looking for a lead designer since the departure of Matthew Williams last year.
This week will also see the final show by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten on Saturday.
Though not a household name, the 66-year-old is retiring as a favorite among serious fashion fans for his avant-garde styles and expert tailoring.



LVMH Shares Drop after Missing Second-quarter Estimates

A man walks past a shop of fashion house Dior in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Manon Cruz/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
A man walks past a shop of fashion house Dior in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Manon Cruz/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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LVMH Shares Drop after Missing Second-quarter Estimates

A man walks past a shop of fashion house Dior in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Manon Cruz/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
A man walks past a shop of fashion house Dior in Paris, France, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Manon Cruz/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Shares in LVMH (LVMH.PA) fell as much as 6.5% in early Wednesday trade and were on track for their biggest one-day drop since October 2023 after second-quarter sales growth at the French luxury goods giant missed analysts' consensus estimate.

The world's biggest luxury group said late Tuesday its quarterly sales rose 1% year on year to 20.98 billion euros ($22.76 billion), undershooting the 21.6 billion expected on average by analysts polled by LSEG.

At 1000 GMT, LVMH's shares were down 4.5%.

The earnings miss weighed on other luxury stocks, with Hermes (HRMS.PA), down around 2% and Kering (PRTP.PA), off 3%.

Kering is scheduled to report second-quarter sales after the market close and Hermes reports on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Jittery investors are looking for evidence that the industry will pick up from a recent slowdown, as inflation-hit shoppers hold off from splashing out on designer fashion.

JPMorgan analyst Chiara Battistini cut full year profit forecasts by 2-3% for the group, citing softer trends at LVMH's fashion and leather goods division, home to Louis Vuitton and Dior.

"The soft print is likely to add to ongoing investors’ concerns on the sector more broadly in our view, confirming that even best-in-class players like LVMH cannot be immune from the challenging backdrop," said Battistini in a note to clients.

The weakness of the yen, which has prompted a flood of Chinese shoppers to Japan seeking bargains on luxury goods, added pressure to margins, another source of concern.

Equita cut 2024 sales estimates for LVMH by 3% - attributing 1% to currency fluctuations - and lowered its second half organic sales estimate to 7% growth from 10% growth previously.

The lack of visibility for the second half beyond the easing of comparative figures - as the Chinese post-pandemic lockdown bounce tapered off a year ago - is unlikely to improve investor sentiment to the luxury sector, Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet said in an email to clients.

"No miracle with the luxury bellwether; sector likely to remain out of favour," he wrote.

Jefferies analysts said the miss came as investors eye Chinese shoppers for their potential to "resume their pre-COVID role as the locomotive of industry growth and debate when Western consumers will have fully digested their COVID overspend".

LVMH shares have been volatile since the luxury slowdown emerged, and are down about 20% over the past year, with middle-class shoppers in China, the world's No. 2 economy, a key focus as they rein in purchases at home amid a property slump and job insecurity.

LVMH offered some reassurance, with finance chief Jean-Jacques Guiony telling analysts during a call on Tuesday that Chinese customers were "holding up quite well," while business with US and European customers was "slightly better".