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In a conference call Thursday, Serge Weinberg, chief executive of Gucci Group’s majority owner Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, defended the company’s decision to replace Tom Ford with three designers at Gucci and one at Yves Saint Laurent. It’s a move that has ignited a debate throughout the fashion industry that is bound to reverberate for seasons to come and that could, if it succeeds, change the luxury model popularized throughout the Nineties.
As expected, PPR on Thursday named Alessandra Facchinetti, John Ray and Frida Giannini to succeed Ford at the creative helm of Gucci, responsible for women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories, respectively. Meanwhile, Yves Saint Laurent named Stefano Pilati, Ford’s number-two at the French house for the past four years, its creative director, responsible for all product categories.
“We feel very comfortable with the decisions we have made,” Weinberg said in a conference call. “We are proud of their appointments and we are sure they will receive the critical acclaim that their talent deserves.”
In fact, Weinberg revealed that the search for Ford’s successors — rumored to span such far-flung names as Narciso Rodriguez, Hedi Slimane, Viktor & Rolf and Marc Jacobs — was entirely an internal undertaking.
“No external candidates outside of Gucci Group were approached,” he said. “The search was not for big names, it was for talent.”
Weinberg acknowledged there had been discussions with Alexander McQueen — believed to center on the YSL post — but stopped short of saying the British designer, whose house is 51 percent owned by Gucci Group, was the top choice.
“We have been looking at different possibilities in theory, but really this was our best choice,” he said. “It was the best solution for all parties involved.”
It is believed PPR was advised in its search by Paris-based recruitment and consulting firm Floriane de Saint Pierre SA.
Citing “continuity and renewal” as the key themes in the design appointments, Weinberg reminded that another unsung design talent, Ford himself, was unknown when he was elevated to the top slot at Gucci.