Here’s a name you should know for 2011, especially in light of the news that LVMH just bought a 17% stake in Hermès: Antoine Arnault.
The son of France’s richest man–and the 43rd most powerful person on earth–Antoine heads up the communications department for Louis Vuitton. He’s young, engaging, smart and quietly confident–and the creative guts behind Vuitton’s Annie Leibovitz-shot “Core Values” ads, which have earned much acclaim.
Arnault the younger has been around the company his entire life. He grew up following his father to LVMH-owned retail stores around Paris every Saturday; he did time selling Vuitton handbags for three months during his school days.
Antoine, 33, says he loves being a part of Vuitton, and with his scruffy hair, unshaven face and athletic persona, he’s an ideal fit for a brand that prides itself on adventure, travel, entrepreneurship and exotic thinking. But he also has no qualms about saying he’ll probably work in other divisions of the LVMH empire–a smart move for someone moving toward a major leadership role. (His older sister, Delphine, is currently No. 3 at Dior.)