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Kenzo names Sylvain Blanc as new CEO

By Huw Hughes


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Image: Sylvain Blanc, via LVMH

Change is afoot at Kenzo. In the same week the French luxury label announced Japanese fashion designer Nigo as its new artistic director, it has also appointed Sylvain Blanc as its new CEO.

Blanc joins the fashion house from underwear label Undiz, where he’s been chief executive since 2018. Earlier in his career, he was vice president, Europe, of French label The Kooples, and is the founder and former CEO of high-end patisserie and chocolaterie Hugo & Victor.

He succeeds Sylvie Colin who is exiting the business to peruse a personal project abroad.

“I am delighted to welcome Sylvain as chief executive officer of Kenzo,” said LVMH chair and CEO Sidney Toledano in a statement Thursday.

He described Blanc as “passionate about fashion” and having “extensive experience in retail”.

“He combines an entrepreneurial itinerary with a proven ability to relaunch and develop established brands. He has been tasked with opening a new chapter in the history of Kenzo,” Toledano said.

He added: “I want to sincerely thank Sylvie for her contribution over the past four years, during which Kenzo has consolidated its organization and largely renewed its collections, while strengthening its presence in Asia.”

Streetwear icon Nigo joins Kenzo

The news comes the same week Kenzo named Nigo as its new creative lead. The Japanese designer, who made a name for himself as the founder of popular streetwear brand A Bathing Ape, will join Kenzo on September 20 and is expected to unveil his debut collection in 2022.

The move again highlights the growing influence streetwear is having on high-end fashion and mirrors similar appointments in the fashion world in recent years, perhaps most notably that of Off-White founder Virgil Abloh being named artistic director of menswear at storied fashion house Louis Vuitton in 2018.

Kenzo is likely betting on the appointment of streetwear legend Nigo to lift the brand’s standing in the fashion world not only in terms of aesthetics but also through the cultural richness, relevance and authenticity that is so tightly woven into the streetwear scene.

Commenting on his new role, Nigo said: “I am proud to have been appointed artistic director of Kenzo. I was born in the year that Takada Kenzo san opened his first store in Paris. We both graduated from the same fashion school in Tokyo. In 1993, the year that Kenzo joined the LVMH Group, I started my career in fashion.

“Kenzo san’s approach to creating originality was through his understanding of many different cultures. It is also the essence of my own philosophy of creativity. Inheriting the spirit of Kenzo san’s craftsmanship to create a new Kenzo is the greatest challenge of my 30-year-career, which I intend to achieve together with the team. Finally, I would like to thank Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”

Sylvain Blancas