The Puig Group on Tuesday acquired Hermes' controlling stake in the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion label as part of a bid to breath new life into the struggling Paris-based house.
Founder Gaultier _ who has been churning out wildly inventive designs for about three decades, including Madonna's pointy cone bra _ is to remain in his role as designer, the house said in a statement. Puig Group vice chairman Manuel Puig will be the new president of the Gaultier brand, the statement said.
Hermes, a shareholder in Gaultier since 1999, said it sold its 45 percent stake in the house for 16 million euros. In a separate statement, the Paris-based luxury saddle and handbag maker said that combined with the repayment of 14 million euros in loans, the sale is to generate 30 million euros this year.
Gaultier gave his blessing to the sale, Hermes said, adding it was aimed at "accelerat(ing) the deployment of his house and giv(ing) it fresh impetus."
"I am delighted with this move for a house is dear to our heart," the statement cited Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas as saying. "I am convinced that the alliance between Jean Paul Gaultier and the Puig family will take the house to new highs."
The Puig Group owns Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci as well as Paco Rabanne, the iconic 1960s brand that, having fallen on hard times, shuttered all but its lucrative fragrances line. Under the Puig Group, the brand now is re-entering the competitive realm of women's clothing.
The evolution of Gaultier has proved similar. The label hit its apex of popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the then-enfant terrible of French fashion designed costumes for Madonna's "Blonde Ambition" tour and Peter Greenaway's celebrated film "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover." Since, the label's clothing lines have struggled to keep pace with its blockbuster fragrances.
In addition to his eponymous men's, ready-to-wear and haute couture lines, Gaultier also used to design ready-to-wear for Hermes, but his seven-year collaboration with the French luxury label ended last year. Gaultier's replacement, former Lacoste designer Christophe Lemaire, showed his debut collection for the label in March.
Puig Group, a Spain-based family enterprise, also holds fragrance licenses for brands including Prada and Valentino. Last year, the group reported net profits of 130 million euros, the Gaultier statement said.