Trump's Vuitton visit stirs discord at the brand as designer hits out
PARIS (Reuters) - Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquiere has hit out at Donald Trump after the U.S. president inaugurated one of the brand's factories last week, distancing himself from a visit that was attended by top executives from parent group LVMH.
Accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and flanked by LVMH's controlling shareholder, French billionaire Bernard Arnault, Trump cut the ribbon at the plant in Alvarado, Texas, on Friday, where workers will produce some of the brand's famed handbags.
Vuitton bosses including chief executive Michael Burke were also present.
But the event appeared to cause some discomfort inside Vuitton, with Ghesquiere - who has designed its women's collections since 2013 and whose creations are often worn by Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president - decrying the visit.
"Standing against any political action. I am a fashion designer refusing this association," Ghesquiere said in a post on Instagram over the weekend, adding the hashtags #trumpisajoke and #homophobia, without elaborating.
Vuitton declined to comment. LVMH had no immediate comment to Ghesquiere's comments, which marked a rare moment of public discord within the group.
LVMH's Arnault, who is France's richest man, had already met with Trump shortly after his election in early 2017, visiting him in New York and stating at the time that Vuitton had plans for a new U.S. factory.
The Texas plant, which adds to Vuitton's two existing U.S. manufacturing hubs in California, will create 1,000 jobs, the brand said.
Vuitton produces the bulk of its luxury goods in its home country, trading off the cachet of its "Made in France" credentials. But its U.S. presence is seen as a having advantages at a time of growing global trade tensions.
Some anti-Trump campaigners seized on the Vuitton visit. 'Grab Your Wallet' is a U.S.-based campaign that calls on shoppers to boycott brands linked to Trump in some capacity. It includes Vuitton on its list, as well as other LVMH brands like Christian Dior and Givenchy.
Arnault, 70, who had endorsed Emmanuel Macron when he was running for the French presidency in 2017, steered clear of policy talk at the factory inauguration, and highlighted Vuitton's commitment to the United States.
"Louis Vuitton, a name I know well - cost me a lot of money over the years," Trump said during the visit.
(Reporting by Sarah White, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)