(Above: Bernard Arnault on the piano. By Mario Testino)
Team LVMH or Team PPR? We're talking, of course, about two of the world's most largest and most famous luxury goods companies. Opera Chic puts her brand loyalties aside, cheers for Team LVMH, and here's why:
Majority owner of LVMH, sixty-year-old Bernard Arnault, who controls brands such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Fendi, Dior is best friends with Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Frank Gehry, gave voice to some of the most recognizable fashion designers (he gave John Galliano his chief designer position at Dior, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, and Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi) and steals our hearts (and wallets) because he fancies himself an amateur classical pianist.
His musical heart lead him to his second marriage with Canadian concert pianist Hélène Mercier. In the Fall of 1989, the two met at a dinner party. During a subsequent date on New Year's Eve, Arnault invited Mercier to his house, where he played an Alexander Scriabin prelude. Mercier recalls in a recent article : "His hands were trembling, he was dying of fear, but he was determined to get to the end." The two were married eight months later.
(Above: Yves Carcelle, Actress Gong Li, Bernard Arnault, Helene Mercier & Antoine Arnault)
Mercier still performs in about 20 concerts a year and practices from 2 to 6 hours a day, but she's often by Arnault's side at fashion shows and boutique openings. She lives with Arnault and his three sons (he has five children from his first marriage to Anne Dewavrin) in a 19th century mansion, a former hôtel particulier on Paris's Left Bank, in sight of the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides, where he displays his art collection, ranging from Jean-Michel Basquiat & Warhol (the painting of Elizabeth Taylor) to Damien Hirst & Picasso. And a Yves Klein coffee table.
(Above: Mercier & Arnault & then some dude)
Mortal enemy is rival François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek's on-again, off-again baby daddy (she gave birth to his daughter Valentina in 2007 and the two were finally married a few months ago), the multi-billionaire the C.E.O. of PPR, a $23 billion conglomerate whose luxury unit, the Gucci Group, includes Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta.
So with weepy tears, we throw aside [for just a second] our Balenciaga bags, our YSL touche eclat & Gucci wedges ;__; and route for the piano-loving gentleman who reportedly won't stay overnight in a hotel suite that doesn't have a grand piano as part of the amenities.