"Louis Vuitton again!" Brigitte Macron's outfit for the coronation of King Charles III on 6 May infuriated the French luxury microcosm. Many houses had hoped to benefit from the global exposure that such an event offers.
But true to her conspicuous taste for creations by Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière, Brigitte Macron chose a powder pink dress paired with a large-buttoned overcoat from the collection in the same shade. LVMH also dressed Prince Harry in Dior Homme and his cousin Princess Eugenie in Fendi.
Brigitte Macron's powder pink at Westminster Abbey is the colour Delphine Arnault systematically pushes in designs by Vuitton, the brand where she was deputy director for 10 years before taking over as head of Dior in January. Delphine Arnault, the daughter of LVMH's CEO and founder, has been close with Brigitte Macron since the mid-2010s, as has her stepmother Hélène Mercier, Bernard Arnault's second wife.
LVMH's rivals, along with the various luxury federations and committees, are clearly annoyed by the cosy relationship between the first lady and the French giant. But none dare say so out loud, for fear of alienating Brigitte Macron.
The proximity between Emmanuel Macron's wife and Arnault's group goes beyond a simple affinity for clothes. It is the stuff of a multitude of favours rendered and a constant camaraderie.
Brigitte Macron has lent LVMH a hand in recent months as it looks to forge links with foreign brand ambassadors, in exchange for supporting a charity gala for the Fondation des Hôpitaux de France, which she chairs. Macron attended a pre-concert event at Paris's Accor Arena on 12 December ahead of a show by South Korean K-pop foursome Blackpink, three members of which are LVMH brand ambassadors (Glitz, 02/03/23). Not used to dealing with politicians, the South Korean musicians were honoured to meet France's first lady.
The K-pop group went on to perform at the 28 January gala of the annual Pièces Jaunes event, a concert that raises funds for the Fondation des Hôpitaux de France. Global stars backing a charity organisation that operates only in France gave the event unprecedented visibility.
The same goes for the US rapper Pharrell Williams, who also met the French president's wife and performed at the Pièces Jaunes concert. Shortly before the event, Williams came to terms with LVMH to succeed Virgil Abloh as artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear, an appointment made official on 14 February. LVMH competitor Chanel - which has an ambassador deal with Blackpink's fourth member, Jennie, and also tried to recruit Williams (Glitz, 16/02/23) - kept a close eye on Brigitte Macron's dealings with both luminaries.
The highly popular Pièces Jaunes gala has also helped LVMH forge links with new celebrities. The January concert saw several members of the Arnault family make contact with the French rapper Gims, who is popular in the Middle East. In November, Gims was the opening act for football's World Cup in Qatar.
Four months later, the French rapper was among the guests at Jay-Z's private concert at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, seated a few places from Bernard Arnault (Glitz, 20/04/23). LVMH is not an official Pièces Jaunes partner, but in 2019 it took part in launching another of Brigitte Macron's initiatives, the Institut des Vocations pour l'Emploi, a charity that helps people get back into the workforce. The institute - which has a branch in the northern French town of Roubaix, in the Arnault family's home region - was inaugurated with the first lady and the entire Arnault family on hand.
Brigitte Macron, who famously spent a career as a schoolteacher, also has personal links with the Arnault family. Beyond her close relationship with Delphine Arnault, she taught French at the Lycée Saint-Louis de Gonzague to Frédéric Arnault, now CEO at Tag Heuer, and Jean Arnault, marketing director for Vuitton watches.
The French first lady's entourage also overlaps significantly with the LVMH world. Her new chief of staff, Tristan Bromet, who has been with her since 2017 (see our French-language sister publication La Lettre A, 05/05/23), is a former staffer of Christophe Girard, who was simultaneously a director of fashion strategy at LVMH from 1999 to 2016 and deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture from 2001 to 2012 and 2018 to 2020. Brigitte Macron's previous chief of staff, Jean Spiri, was close to literary agent Nicolas Diat, who himself is tight with the LVMH group's external relations director, Jean-Charles Tréhan.