On the night of Thursday, February 24th, John Galliano was arrested for allegedly launching into racist and anti-Semitic tirade against two strangers at a Paris bar. Within hours, two more alleged victims of Galliano's hate speech had come forward to police, and a notorious video of Galliano drunkenly slurring, "I love Hitler — people like you would be dead, your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed," had been published by the Sun. And within days, Christian Dior — the fashion house whose aesthetic Galliano had defined since 1996 — had fired him. And now, nearly two months later: crickets.
There was an initial flurry of rumors during Paris Fashion Week, when the Dior and (also LVMH-backed) John Galliano collections were shown to the press and buyers under the watchful eye of Christian Dior C.E.O. Sidney Toledano. But since then? Barely a peep. Bernard Arnault, the head of Dior's parent company, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, seemed unconcerned by shareholder questions about the slowness of the search when presenting quarterly earnings results — and that was nearly a month ago. Meanwhile, Dior's cruise collection is due to be shown to buyers in early summer, and couture — freaking couture — is due in July. What is Dior waiting for?
An article in today's Women's Wear Daily sheds some light on the search. The main decision-makers are Arnault himself, who regards Dior as one of the biggest jewels in his crown of luxury brand acquisitions and naturally takes a close interest; Toledano, who has helmed Dior since 1998; and Arnault's daughter and heir apparent Delphine, who has been a deputy managing director at Dior since 2008.
Arnault deputized his advisers to assemble a longlist, which apparently includes (or once included) everyone from Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy is a traditional launching-pad and training ground for Dior; Galliano came from there, and Tisci is said to be "lobbying" for the job), Tom Ford, ex-Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane, former Rochas and Nina Ricci designer Olivier Theyskens, Balenciaga's Nicholas Ghesquière, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, Haider Ackermann, New York-based up-and-comer Prabal Gurung, and Alexander McQueen's successor, Sarah Burton. (Many of these names are the same as the original slate of rumored candidates from two months ago.)
What might tip the balances? Well, "Delphine Arnault is seen as a keen champion of the young Italian [Tisci], who rose from a modest background to become one of the hottest young guns in fashion with an entourage that includes models, artists and pop stars."
And then there's the little-known Royal Wedding Factor. Bernard Arnault might be waiting for two strangers to get married before he decides who's going to run his $28 billion brand! Insane rumor, or most insane rumor ever, it-can't-be-possible-that-anyone-would-run-a-multinational-conglomerate-this-way, or-could-it?
According to a source, Bernard Arnault is transfixed by royalty, and would be keen to launch Dior alongside the next-generation couple, just as Princess Diana helped catapult the image of the brand in 1995 when she toted a Lady Dior bag and, a year later, donned a midnight-blue, bias-cut Dior gown by Galliano to attend the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Alexander McQueen, helmed by Sarah Burton, is — according to one rumor, at least — said to be making Kate Middleton's dress.
Earlier: Who Will Replace Galliano At Dior?