While the newspaper story was vague, its sources claimed L'Oréal is set to acquire a stake in Armani before the end of this year. L'Oréal holds the licenses for producing and distributing fragrances, cosmetics and skin care for the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani brands.
A spokeswoman for the French beauty giant and a spokesman for Giorgio Armani declined comment on the speculation.
However, industry sources don't give it much credence. One said he doesn't believe L'Oréal would enter into another fashion-related venture following its failed seven-year run with Lanvin, which it owned until 2001. Historically, beauty companies have found fashion businesses difficult to master and disposed of them. In recent years, Groupe Clarins stopped manufacturing the Thierry Mugler fashion brand and Procter & Gamble shuttered the Rochas fashion business.
In numerous interviews in the past, Armani has mentioned L'Oréal as a possible partner in his fashion house if he ever decided to sell. But he also has pointed to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton as the kind of investor he would like.
In November, at the opening of his new flagship in Ginza in Tokyo, Armani discussed in general terms what type of investor for which he might be looking. "The only investor that would make sense to me is one who loves fashion and for his own gratification wants to participate in the history of a glorious brand," he told WWD.
But he also insisted he has no plans to retire. Asked if he was staying put, he joked: "I would rather say I'm staying on but not staying still."