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Posted at 11:22 AM ET, 04/22/2011

Meet the Candidates: A Dior Succession Cheat Sheet


( LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault; Photo:THOMAS SAMSON - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault and princess-to-be Catherine Middleton seem to have little in common, but they are now fashion’s most powerful kingmakers.

Soon, the public will know the designer behind Kate Middleton’s wedding gown. The details—length of train, shade of ivory—will affect bridal fashions for decades, even if the gown disappoints. As Middleton has already proven, everything she wears, even ill-fitted, polyester sheaths and Top Shop frocks, become instantly iconic.

But across the Channel, Bernard Arnault has drawn up a list of designers, too, to replace disgraced head couturier John Galliano at the House of Dior. Fashion insiders are keeping careful watch despite royal mania, as Arnault’s choice of chief designer could have an even greater effect on the fashion industry than Middleton’s wedding gown.

Women’s Wear Daily released the rumored list of candidates this week, which includes famous fashion powerhouses like Tom Ford. The shocking new name in the mix is Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, who was also named the frontrunner on the elusive Middleton list by the London Times.

But who are these designers? Don’t they have other jobs? And which one, if any, will replace Galliano?

They’re a diverse bunch, with varying passports and allegiances to vastly different houses. (Don’t be fooled; fashion rivalries will come into play.) But mostly likely, one of these names will lead Dior out of the scandal of the season.

Our candidate cheat sheet follows.


(Tom Ford; Photo: Pascal Le SegretainGETTY IMAGES)

Tom Ford

Nationality: American

Education: Parsons

Past Houses: YSL; Gucci

Current House: Tom Ford

Notes: In 2009, Ford added director to his resume. He directed the feature film “A Single Man,” in which Colin Firth starred. Known for his menswear collections and sharp tailoring, he debuted a critically acclaimed womenswear collection on September 12, 2010, after 6 years without a womenswear line.

Sarah Burton

Nationality: British

Education: Manchester Polytechnic; Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design Past House: Alexander McQueen

Current House: Alexander McQueen

Parent Company: PPR

Notes: Burton began working with McQueen in 1996 as an intern. She admitted being intimidated when she took over for the late designer in 2010 saying to WWD, “That was very much Lee’s territory - the spectacular show…I can’t try and pretend to be Lee.” WWD speculates that if she does create Kate Middleton’s wedding gown, she will jump to the top of Arnault’s list.

Hedi Slimane

Nationality: French

Education: Sciences-Po; Art History at the École du Louvre; educated as a tailor

Past Houses: Yves St Laurent; Dior Homme

Current House: No label, www.hedislimane.com

Notes: A true renaissance man, he traded design for photography in 2007. He’s filled his time with curating museum exhibitions, writing books, and designing album covers for bands since leaving Dior Homme.


(Olivier Theyskens; Photo: Stephen Lovekin GETTY IMAGES)

Olivier Theyskens

Nationality: Belgium

Education: Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre

Past House: Rochas; Nina Ricci

Current House: Theory

Notes: After his contract (shockingly) was not renewed at Nina Ricci, Theyskens went to Theory and revitalized the brand with edgier designs. Sales have improved significantly under his leadership.

Nicholas Ghesquière

Nationality: French

Education: apprenticeships

Past Houses: Jean-Paul Gaultier; Callaghan

Current House: Balenciaga

Parent Company: PPR

Notes: He fell into designing the main line for Balenciaga. At age 23, he joined the house after being hired to design a line of uniforms for a Japanese company. He is credited for turning the once unfashionable house of Balenciaga into a major luxury house again.

Alber Elbaz

Nationality: Israeli

Education: Shenkar College of Engineering and Design

Past Houses: Geoffrey Beene; Yves St. Laurent; Krizia

Current House: Lanvin

Parent Company: Harmonie S.A

Notes: Known for his business savvy and whimsical, feminine designs, he is credited for turning the struggling house into a gold mine. Since taking over the house in 2001, Lanvin has become one of the most esteemed houses in the industry. Slate’s Simon Doonan calls him “the most copied designer on the planet.” His Lanvin for H&M line made him a household name among fast-fashion shoppers.

Haider Ackermann

Nationality: Colombian

Education: Royal Academy of Antwerp; Fashion Academy of Fine Arts

Past Houses: Bernhard Willhelm, Patrick Van Ommeslaeghe

Current House: Haider Ackermann

Notes: Known for his elegant, edgy designs, he was offered the position of creative director at Martin Margiela in 2008 and declined. In November 2010, Karl Lagerfeld named him his hypothetical successor at Chanel.


(Prabal Gurung Photo: Dario CantatoreGETTY IMAGES)

Prabal Gurung

Nationality: Nepalese-American

Education: New Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology; Parsons

Past Houses: Donna Karan; Bill Blass; Cynthia Rowley

Current House: Prabal Gurung (launched in 2009)

Notes: A favorite of Anna Wintour and Michelle Obama, Prabal Gurung is quickly becoming a household name in American fashion, despite launching his eponymous line only two years ago. Since 2010, he’s arguably been the most coveted ticket at New York Fashion Week.

Riccardo Tisci

Nationality: Italian

Education: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design

Past House: Antonio Berardi

Current House: Givenchy

Parent Company: LVMH

Notes: Since 2005, he’s served as creative director of Givenchy’s haute couture and ready-to-wear lines. In March, tabloids announced that he was set to take over at Christian Dior. He is still rumored to be the likely front-runner.

By  |  11:22 AM ET, 04/22/2011

Tags:  Fashion

 
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