Bag Wars

Bernard Arnault seated at LVMH during Paris Fashion Week

LVMH’s Bernard Arnault has an insatiable appetite for luxury brands. Now the ‘wolf in cashmere’ is licking his chops over one of the last family-controlled companies in the business: Hermès. Will he win, and turn class to mass?

In the plush, cut-throat world of luxury fashion, French tycoon Bernard Arnault is known as the “wolf in cashmere.” That’s because he has guzzled down one high-end brand after another like so much Dom Pérignon champagne (which, by the way, he also happens to own). Louis Vuitton. Givenchy. Marc Jacobs. Fendi. All these and more are part of LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton, the French conglomerate that Arnault assembled on his way to becoming the seventh-richest man on the planet (net worth: $27.5 billion and counting). Now he’s poised to consume one of the last family-controlled brands in the business: Hermès, whose Kelly handbags and colorful silk scarves are required wear for the wealthy and those who aspire to be.