Most people hadn't even heard of 27-year-old French designer Maxime Simoens until a few months ago, when he was said to be in talks with Dior. (Simoens repeatedly denied any involvement with Dior, but admitted that he was "in negotiations"of some sort.) The rumors intensified earlier this month when he left Leonard, the small French label where he'd worked since last October. Now WWD reports that LVMH's Bernard Arnault has bought a sizable stake in Simoens's eponymous label, which explains the aforementioned "negotiations" and presumably allowed the designer to quit his gig at Leonard and focus all his attention on his own line.
Simoens graduated from the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 2005 and then held apprenticeships with Elie Saab, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga, and Galliano at Dior, according to his website. He mounted his first womenswear collection at the Festival de Hyères in 2009 and has since shown during the Paris couture schedule.
For Arnault to make a major investment in such a young and relatively unknown designer is rare (the actual size of his stake hasn't been revealed), and shows that Simoens is probably being groomed to take over one of LVMH's major fashion houses. Simoens's collection is currently carried at a few luxury stores in France, but with LVMH's help, it'll surely get more international marketing.