Battle Deluxe

Titans LVMH and Gucci vie for dominance in the fashion world

Surrounded by hundreds of decanters of Dior's latest fragrance, J'adore, Bernard Arnault, 50, swivels in an ergonomic chair at the head of a metallic gray conference table on the 16th floor of midtown Manhattan's new LVMH tower. Forget Calvin, Ralph and even Giorgio or Miuccia--this narrow-faced, thin-lipped, dimpled Frenchman is the most powerful person in fashion today.

As founder and president of luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Arnault controls, in addition to the eponymous leather goods and spirits brands, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Celine, Kenzo, Christian Lacroix, Tag Heuer, Dom Perignon, Ebel, two Paris department stores, the DFS duty-free chain...

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