Haider Ackermann departure prompts LVMH shake-up, but who are the designers involved?

By Luke Christou

As the parent company of many of the world’s biggest luxury brands, such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, TAG Heuer and Givenchy, LVMH has access to a vast pool of the world’s most talented creatives.

That has been clearer than ever over the past month, as the departure of Haider Ackermann from men’s fashion house Berluti kick-started a designer merry-go-round involving three of LVMH’s biggest brands and four of the fashion industry’s big names.

Kris Van Assche was taken from Dior to replace Ackermann. Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton was then drafted in as Assche’s replacement at Dior. Virgil Abloh, the only LVMH outsider involved in the reshuffle, was taken from Italian fashion group New Guards to fill the gap left by Jones.

Whether due to boredom in their current roles, a lack of choice, or offers that they couldn’t refuse, the likes of Assche and Jones have agreed to depart their current brands after years in the job.

But who exactly are the four designers involved in the LVMH shake-up?

Haider Ackermann

Columbian designer Ackermann started his fashion career in 2001 with the creation of his own womenswear label. This attracted interest from Ruffo Research, who soon after hired him as their new head designer. He created two collections for the brand in 2003 and 2004 before relocating to Paris to focus on his own label.

Ackermann moved into men’s fashion in 2010 with a one-off collection that debuted at the Pitti trade show.

Picked up by luxury department store Barneys, Ackermann became a prominent name in menswear. His work has been praised by fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld and labels such as Dior have tried to snap him up. However, he eventually opted to join another LVMH-owned label, Berluti.

Ackermann has lasted just over 18 months in the creative director role. He will once again depart the corporate world to focus on his own independent label.

Kris Van Assche

Van Assche entered the fashion world as an assistant to Hedi Slimane, at the time Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director, working on the Rive Gauche Homme line.

When Slimane moved to Dior in 2001, Van Assche followed. He lasted three years before departing to focus on his own brand. His first men’s collection, which debuted at Men’s Fashion Week in 2005, gained widespread attention.

Two years later, when Slimane left Dior, the luxury brand brought Van Assche in to succeed his former mentor. He spent 11 years at the brand, becoming its longest serving creative director, before agreeing to join Berluti this year.

Kim Jones

Jones’ list of high-profile employers includes everything from high-street stores such as Uniqlo and Topman to luxury fashion houses such as Mulberry and Hugo Boss.

The award-winning British designer rose to fame after label John Galliano bought his debut collection in 2002. This provided Jones the funds to start his own label. He spent six years working on his own projects before joining Alfred Dunhill as creative director.

While with the company, he was voted as Menswear Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council.

He spent three years with Alfred Dunhill before joining Louis Vuitton as style director in 2011. While there, he helped to increase LV’s popularity with a younger audience by collaborating with streetwear brand Supreme.

He will replace Van Assche as Berluti’s creative director.

Virgil Abloh

It seems that LV will continue to target a millennial audience with the appointment of Virgil Abloh to replace Jones. The American designer served as the former art director for famed hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West.

After interning at Italian fashion house Fendi, Abloh launched his independent fashion label, Off-White in 2013. Well connected in the music scene, he was able to get artists like A$AP Rocky, Rihanna and Beyoncé to wear his products. The label has since collaborated with major companies and labels like Nike and Jimmy Choo.

Joining Louis Vuitton as artistic director, this will be Abloh’s first role with a major fashion house. However, the success with Off-White, coupled with his connections, seemingly convinced Louis Vuitton to give him a chance.

Other names involved in the LVMH shake-up

The latest spat of changes comes following Riccardo Tisci’s departure from LVMH brand Givenchy earlier this year. The Italian left to become Burberry’s new chief creative officer after serving for 13 years as Givenchy’s creative director.

Likewise, there has been some turbulence at Céline following the departure of Phoebe Philo late last year.

After 10 years as Céline’s creative director, during which time she helped to modernise the 75-year-old brand, she will be stepping down, with Hedi Slimane taking her place as Céline’s artistic, creative and image director.

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