But even if the economy doesn't show us more leg for a while, the fortunes of fashion billionaires--who decide what we wear, where we buy it and what bag and shoes goes with it--should remain relatively flush. Though most of the moguls have seen their personal balance sheets falter in the past 12 months, they have seen modest bumps thanks to the market rally since March.
The richest man in fashion is, naturally, the richest man in France. Bernard Arnault had a nest egg worth $16.5 billion in March when Forbes published the list of the World's Billionaires--and is worth even more today as shares of his publicly traded fashion firm LVMH rose 30% since early March.
Arnault used $15 million from his father's construction business to buy Christian Dior in 1985. Today he controls several high-end brands--including Tag Heuer, Moet Hennessy, Dom Perignon, Fendi and Louis Vuitton--via LVMH. He also bought Princess Yachts, one of Britain's oldest luxury motorboat manufacturers, last summer and picked up yacht builder Royal van Lent soon after.
Fellow Frenchman Francois Pinault had a $7.6 billion fortune when World's Billionaires was published, and has gotten richer since. His stake in PPR, which owns labels Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, has risen almost 30% since early March.
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Image: Ralph Lauren - Clothing connoisseur has seen his fortune falter as "recessionista" shoppers shun luxury fashions; Polo Ralph Lauren shares down almost 30% since last summer.