So, basically, no designer is secure in his or her job unless they also own the company outright.
Today, on the heels of Raf Simons' exit from Christian Dior, Lanvin announced that the designer who seemed most secure in his position at a great Parisian maison, Alber Elbaz, would be leaving his job as creative director there following a disagreement with the company's major shareholder.
The obvious conjecture is that much as they did with Nicolas Ghesquiere, who left Balenciaga and landed at Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault and LVMH will scoop up the much loved designer and install him in the corresponding post at Dior that Raf Simons just vacated.
Whether or not that will happen, and the hopes of Elbaz's many fans and probably a lot of retailers are certainly pinned on it, remains to be seen, but there is a similar scenario connecting the situations of both Ghesquiere and Elbaz. Both can be credited with not only reviving storied French couture houses which had fallen into quasi obscurity, but reshaping them from the bottom up and catapulting them to the forefront of the fashion scene in Paris. Both departed their respective companies with equity stakes originally meant to keep them tied to the houses and resistant to potential poaching by competing labels. Both left as result of unhappiness with upper management, requiring costly buyouts of their ownership stakes.
A hint of Elbaz's recent state of mind can be gleaned from an acceptance speech he gave just last week when he was honored at Fashion Group International's annual Night of Stars gala, pictured above with presenter Meryl Streep in an Lanvin Instagram post from earlier today. In an unexpectedly long speech, Elba expounded on the relentlessly accelerating pace of the industry and the pressure it puts on designers' creative process. Would Elbaz even want the notoriously high pressure job at Dior which comes with its own limitations and pressures? He has been rumored to have interviewed with LVMH for open design positions in the past, but ultimately choosing to remain at Lanvin where he has had his greatest success. Elbaz released the following departure statement of his own:
"At this time of my departure from Lanvin on the decision of the company’s majority shareholder, I wish to express my gratitude and warm thoughts to all those who have worked with me passionately on the revival of Lanvin over the last 14 years; express my affection to all my wonderful colleagues in the Lanvin ateliers who accompanies me, and who enriched and supported my work. Together we have met the creative challenge presented by Lanvin and have restored its radiance and have returned it to its rightful position among France’s absolute luxury fashion houses.
"I also wish to express my profound and deepest gratitude to all of the clients and friends, to the French and international press and to all those business partners who collaborated with Lanvin, providing us with support since 2001."
"I wish the house of Lanvin the future it deserves among the best French luxury brands, and hope that it finds the business vision it needs to engage in the right way forward."
With two of the biggest design jobs in Paris now open, let the speculations fly, but it must be noted that well-known Elbaz fan and friend Natalie Portman has a fragrance endorsement at Dior, but often appears in Lanvin when her contract allows her to wear other labels. There's one person who would likely be thrilled to keep her favorite designer's clothes coming, regardless of what label he designs under.
Alber Elbaz Leaving Lanvin, Label Confirms (Business of Fashion)