* Dior CEO says U.S. saw strong rebound in 2012
* CEO says orders exceed workshop capacity
By Astrid Wendlandt and Pascale Denis
PARIS, Jan 21 The U.S. market for high-end
luxury goods rebounded in 2012 as consumer sentiment improved,
the head of Christian Dior, one of France's biggest fashion
brands, said on Monday.
The United States, which vies with China for the top spot in
the luxury sector by market size, is regarded by many in the
industry as one of the least-penetrated markets compared with
the size of its economy, with solid growth prospects.
"America is doing better, in 2012 we have seen a strong
rebound in spending on high-end luxury," Christian Dior Chief
Executive Sidney Toledano said after the fashion house's haute
couture show in Paris.
"American women came back strongly last year," Toledano
said, referring to buyers of the brand's haute couture dresses.
Christian Dior, part of luxury goods group LVMH,
was echoing positive comments made earlier on Monday by sector
peer Richemont, which reported improving sales trends
in the United States, though it also said sales growth had
ground to a halt in Asia-Pacific.
LVMH reports full-year results on Jan. 31.
Toledano said Dior's couture division was receiving more
orders than its workshops could take.
"We need to develop our (production) capacity to handle the
demand," Toledano said, adding that Dior had 100 permanent staff
and its workshop was so busy that it remained in operation
between Christmas and New Year.
Toledano said the staffing issue explained partly why Dior
had acquired small Parisian embroidery firm Vermont last year.
ETHEREAL AND MODERN
In December, Christian Dior Couture reported sales for the
half-year to Oct. 31 up 18 percent at 632 million euros ($840
million) and said margins had improved.
Monday's Dior haute couture show was the second presented by
new creative director Raf Simons, poached from Jil Sander last
year to replace disgraced John Galliano, who has since made a
comeback at Oscar de la Renta.
Simons presented an ethereal and modern spring/summer
collection with flowing, puffed-out dresses enamelled with
fluorescent sparkling touches.
The garden-inspired show included multi-layered tulle
cocktail bustier dresses that made daring mixes of colours such
as light pink and blue, with touches of bright orange and
Accessories included fluorescent pink, orange and green
tights and transparent gloves embroidered with flowers.
The front row was attended by the usual crowd of
celebrities, which this time counted actresses Sigourney Weaver,
Jessica Alba, Laetitia Casta and Isabelle Huppert.
LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault was sitting next to
French President Francois Hollande's girlfriend, Valerie
Trierweiler, who has become a regular fashion show fixture since
his election last year.