The A B(erluti) C of Luxury Footwear.
Full disclosure I am a great admirer of the BERLUTI brand and I am also a fan of Creative Director Kris Van Assche but news this week that the LVMH owned brand is taking a break from formal fashion schedule may not come as a complete surprise to many. The release went on to say that Kris Van Assche its talented Creative Director was exiting the business.
Acquired by LVMH in 1993, BERLUTI expanded the leather goods in 2005 and in 2011 Alessandro Sartori (ex Ermenegildo Zegna), partnered with Arnault to expand the artisan footwear into a lifestyle label for men with complete RTW fashion collections.
Sartori returned to Zegna in 2016, and was succeeded at BERLUTI for a few seasons by Haider Ackermann also a designer of note, but the collection was way too ‘editorial’ read that as pink leather Trench coats, until Van Assche arrived amid a designer shakeup at LVMH that saw Kim Jones move from Louis Vuitton to become artistic director of men’s ready-to-wear at Dior, and Virgil Abloh arrive as men’s artistic director at Vuitton. Musical chairs at LVMH.
BERLUTI now boasts more than 60 stores worldwide, and offers head-to-toe bespoke services at ateliers on Rue Marbeuf and Rue de Sèvres in Paris. It remains famous for its court shoe fashioned from a single piece of leather without any seams, and its artisan polishing – with champagne no less. Known for youthful tailoring and loads of athletic and workwear influences, the Kris Van Assche collection also dabbled in women’s wear.
However, we don’t know what the performance figures are as LVMH does not release a breakdown of the figures by brand. But one would speculate that the BERLUTI RTW has not sold well or sufficiently to keep a creative director at the helm, having gone through quite a few of them in the past 5 years. The question remains why does LVMH keep bringing in rather high profile creative directors only to discover that after two or three seasons the RTW fashion lines just don’t garner the attention or credit cards of the high net worth BERLUTI customer. I’d speculate it’s because that classic customer wants beautifully hand-crafted footwear and not fluro tipped, artist print apparel, but I could be wrong.
Experience should suggest that they take stock and adjust the masterplan but I would speculate that they will continue to bring in creative directors and this time might try to develop a luxury streetwear vibe – and new in the frame designers like Heron Preston (old chum of Kanye) who’s just launched a collaboration with CALVIN KLEIN could be in the frame. There’s also Kirby Jean Raymond of menswear brand Pyer Moss fame. Interestingly they are both Black which could give LVMH another string to the PR bow should they consider hiring either of these designers. I guess we will wait for the breaking news.