How was it that a fashion designer could be more well-known than the president of his country? This question planted the seed of what would one day become LVMH.Polina
As the billionaire CEO of @LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), Arnault sells items no one actually needs. But with a roster of more than 70 brands including Fendi, Bulgari, Dom Pérignon, and Givenchy, he’s built the world’s largest and most successful purveyor of luxury goods.
If it hadn’t been one fateful taxi ride in New York City, Arnault may have never entered the world of luxury. In 1971, he had graduated from a French engineering school and began working at the construction firm founded by his grandfather in France.
How was it that a fashion designer could be more well-known than the president of his country? This question planted the seed of what would one day become LVMH.
By the time he was 25, Arnault became the head of the family business, but he had bigger ambitions than construction. He moved to the U.S. to try to expand the company when he realized that he wanted to build a business with a powerful brand that could scale globally.
He heard that the French government was set to choose someone to acquire the Boussac Saint-Frères empire, a textile and retail conglomerate that owned Christian Dior. His ears perked up when he heard that Dior was for sale — the French brand that the taxi driver knew in the U.S.
In the spring of 1987, someone was mysteriously buying a lot of shares in the company Moet-Hennessy. A group — with Arnault at the helm — had bought 24.5% of LVMH for $1.5B. He eventually bought enough stock to become LVMH’s largest shareholder. He became “the Wolf in Cashmere”
His relationships with the CEOs of the fashion houses he owns are largely hands-off. He trusts the creatives because he understands that LVMH can’t generate profits without craftsmanship. Arnault says his goal in life is to turn creative visions into reality.