Jean Paul Gaultier bids adieu to Hermès

Hermès is doing well, but Gaultier still wants to move on...

Text by Sharon Feiereisen

In this economy, there is no shortage of brands not faring as well as they would like. Hermès, however, is doing so exceptionally well that they recently said they’ve had to begin breeding their own crocodiles to keep up with the demand for their product (namely $50,000-plus handbags made from exotic skins which require three to four crocs per bag). Of course, most of the interest in Hermès is for the legendary French house’s handbags, accessories, and beauty buys, but their clothing has been making splashes of its own.

For the past six years, couturier Jean Paul Gaultier has been the creative director for the house. He assumed the position after the departure of Martin Margiela in 2003. Now Fashion Week Daily has broken the news that the designer – who also designs his own eponymous ready to wear and couture collections - will step down from the lofty post after the Spring/Summer 2010 Hermès collection show in Paris this October.

So far, neither Gaultier nor an Hermès rep has issued a statement, but the departure would certainly be shock given the commercial and critical success of the Paris-based high-fashion luxury goods manufacturer. In July of this year, Hermes’ second quarter profits were up 12 percent to about $607.4 million in the 3 months ending June 30, while leather goods were up 33.4 percent, and ready-to-wear and fashion increased by 12.7 percent.

Hermès invested $23 million in Gaultier's namesake line in June 2009 for a 35 percent stake. Who will take his place? It’s unlikely, but I have a feeling the Proenza Schouler boys would do great things for Hermès...

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