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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Donna Karan Says LVMH Has Given Her the 'Cold Shoulder'

Donna Karan at her 30th anniversary show in February. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty
Donna Karan at her 30th anniversary show in February. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty

Donna Karan is no longer happy with the company that has owned her brand (and employed her) for the past 13 years, LVMH.

In an interview with the New York Times,
Karan says that she has wanted to work more closely with LVMH, but the
French conglomerate, which also owns Céline, Dior and Givenchy, has
given her "the cold shoulder." She indicates that the company, for one,
hasn't given her the support she has needed to build a significant
luxury handbag business -- "instead they saw me as a fashion designer,"
she says -- and her eponymous label has suffered as a result. (One of
her biggest supporters, Bloomingdale's, stopped carrying the line six
months ago). Donna Karan's Executive Director of Global Marketing Patti
Cohen adds that a hoped-for relationship between Karan and Delphine
Arnault, LVMH's executive vice president and the daughter of its
chairman, Bernard Arnault, has not developed, despite interest on
Karan's side.

It's rare for anyone to publicly criticize his or
her employer, and especially rare when that employer is a fashion goods
company as large and powerful as LVMH. (Look at the legal brouhaha that ensued after Nicolas Ghesquiere criticized his previous employer, Kering, on the record after leaving his post at Balenciaga.)

what, exactly, is going on here? It's clear that Karan is unhappy with
her relationship with LVMH, and that going on record with her marketing
head was a strategic effort on her (or the company's) part to get the
attention of the conglomerate's execs -- a goal she's no doubt achieved.
There are two likely outcomes: 1) Karan gets the meetings, potentially
with Delphine Arnault, she wants; or 2) She lays the groundwork for a
split between LVMH and her own brand. When asked if there have been
discussions about ending their relationship, Karan told the Times,
"Not that I know of, right now -- not at the moment" -- a response that
indicates that at some later moment, those discussions may very well

Spokespeople from LVMH and Donna Karan did not respond to requests for further comment.

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