Meet Delphine Arnault, the daughter of the world's richest man and now one of the most powerful women in fashion as the CEO of Dior
Dominick ReuterJan 12, 2023, 02:44 IST
Delphine Arnault was born near Paris on April 4, 1975, to Bernard Arnault and his first wife, Anne Dewavrin.
Her father's eldest child (she has four younger brothers), she is the heiress-apparent to his luxury goods empire and fortune worth $184.7 billion.
She attended primary school in Paris, with a stint in the US at a French-American school where she became fluent in English.
After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1997, Delphine Arnault took a job at McKinsey.
"I was learning strategy," she told the Financial Times. "In a presentation in America they would start with the conclusion and say how they got there, and I found that very interesting. It was straight to the point."
Two years later she joined the fashion designer John Galliano's brand to gain more industry experience. At the time, Galliano was also Dior's creative director.
In 2005, she married Italian wine heir Alessandro Vallarino Gancia in what Forbes called "France's wedding of the year," but the couple divorced in 2010.
She then began a relationship with French telecom billionaire Xavier Niel, with whom she now has two children.
When video footage of Galliano making anti-semitic remarks led to his ouster from Dior in 2011, Arnault is credited with managing to shield the company from fallout and elevate his replacement, Raf Simons.
Since 2013, Ms. Arnault has been in charge of all product-related activities for Louis Vuitton, the biggest brand at LVMH.
She told the FT her managerial style is "quite calm," though she's known to make surprise visits to stores on busy Saturday afternoons.
At 43, Arnault became the youngest member — and second woman — on the LVMH executive committee when she joined in 2019.
In January 2023, LVMH announced she would take over the CEO role at Christian Dior, replacing Pietro Beccari, who moves to run Louis Vuitton.
"Under her leadership, the desirability of Louis Vuitton products advanced significantly, enabling the brand to regularly set new sales records," her father said in a statement. "Her keen insights and incomparable experience will be decisive assets in driving the ongoing development of Christian Dior."
As a group, LVMH posted over $60 billion in sales in the first three quarters of 2022, up 28% from the same period in 2021. The company doesn't separate financial information by brand.
The move is "significant," Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet told Reuters, since "succession planning in strategic roles has been instrumental to the success of LVMH's key brands over the past 20 years."