FILE PHOTO: Cast member Rihanna poses for pictures as she arrives for the European premiere of Ocean's 8 in London, Britain June 13, 2018. Picture: REUTERS / SIMON DAWSON
FILE PHOTO: Cast member Rihanna poses for pictures as she arrives for the European premiere of Ocean's 8 in London, Britain June 13, 2018. Picture: REUTERS / SIMON DAWSON

Paris/London — Pop star Rihanna is joining LVMH to launch a fashion house under her Fenty brand, pairing the world’s largest luxury conglomerate with one of the biggest cultural influencers.

The Paris-based label will make its debut this spring, selling ready-to-wear clothing, shoes and accessories, LVMH said in a statement confirming earlier reports on the plans to expand their partnership. The Barbadian singer and the owner of Louis Vuitton and Dom Perignon already launched a hit makeup line in 2017.

The move represents a rare foray into building a new brand for LVMH, which has focused on acquiring labels with prestigious histories ranging from Christian Dior Couture to Rimowa suitcases. Rihanna joins other singers, such as Beyonce, in developing their own fashion lines to capitalise on Instagram-fuelled celebrity buzz that’s driving industry sales.

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault “has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits”, said Rihanna, whose surname is Fenty.

The deep-pocketed French company is led by the world’s third-richest person, with an $88b fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. No financial details of the agreement were provided.

LVMH’s Fenty Beauty by Rihanna makeup line, sold principally through the company’s Sephora beauty chain, reached almost €500m in sales during its first full year of business. The brand’s move to sell 40 shades of foundation was lauded for its appeal to customers with a diverse range of skin tones — and competitors like Procter & Gamble’s CoverGirl and Ulta Beauty’s Flesh raced to add new shades to their own lines.

No more targets

The move to invest in a new fashion house comes as LVMH runs out of merger and acquisition targets in its key fashion and leather division. American challengers such as Michael Kors parent Capri and Coach owner Tapestry, Chinese groups Fosun International and Shandong Ruyi, private equity funds and the Qatari royal family have all scrambled to buy European luxury labels, pushing up asset prices. Families controlling prestigious brands like Hermes and Chanel have resisted putting their companies up for sale.

Faced with the dearth of opportunities for splashy fashion acquisitions, LVMH has used the windfall from surging Chinese luxury demand to simplify its structure — buying out the parts of the Christian Dior business that had previously belonged to a separate Arnault holding — as well as diversifying through investments in e-commerce and travel.

Rihanna previously served as a brand ambassador and creative director for the sportswear company Puma, which was formerly controlled by LVMH rival Kering. In April, Beyonce signed with Adidas to develop footwear and apparel under her Ivy Park label.

“Through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real CEO and a terrific leader,” Arnault said.

Bloomberg