Monday, Feb. 09, 2004

Delphine Arnault

Making Her Mark In The Family Firm

As the fashion-obsessed daughter of Bernard Arnault, chairman of the luxury-goods company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Delphine Arnault has long had a front-row seat at LVMH fashion shows. But last fall her father decided that the time had come for her to have a front-row seat in his LVMH business dealings too. Delphine, 28, was appointed to the board of LVMH, becoming the only woman alongside 15 men.

Delphine has undergone a quiet fashion apprenticeship over the past three years. After graduating from the London School of Economics, she worked for two years at McKinsey in Paris before joining LVMH in 2000. She learned the business with John Galliano, working on product development and marketing for his label and then switching to Dior. Now Delphine heads Dior's women's shoe division, one of the company's fastest-growing sectors. "She's got a very good sense of product, a very good eye," says Sidney Toledano, chief executive of Dior Couture, who says Delphine is treated the same as anyone else at the company. "Her father insists on that."

The Dior job takes Delphine out on the road frequently, checking in with Dior factories, ensuring that retailers are giving suitable prominence to her merchandise and trying to gauge the public's reaction to new products. People at the company who know her say she can be shy on first contact but that she's a careful observer who appears to have inherited her father's determination to get the job done.