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‘Best Solution’ for PPR: Weinberg Stands Behind New Strategy for Gucci

With the expected announcement of Gucci Group’s successors to Tom Ford, PPR chief Serge Weinberg discussed the multidesigner strategy.

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Asked if it was a risky strategy, Santucci replied: “We view this new model as an opportunity and the only way to raise Gucci to the next level.”

Also, it is understood that Santucci will have the last word on product and creative issues at Gucci, much like ceo’s at brands such as Hermès, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, which employ a variety of designers for different product categories.

Weinberg also stressed that designers and ceo’s at the respective brands, freed of the constraints of Ford’s group creative director position, “are now fully responsible for everything inside their houses, and this is a major change.”

He and Santucci also noted Facchinetti, Ray and Pilati would work closely with their respective fragrance and beauty partners to create new fragrances and ensure brand coherence.

Weinberg was also pressed by journalists and analysts to clarify recent statements in the press, particularly his controversial quote in The Wall Street Journal Europe that “no one talks about Miuccia Prada. No one knows it’s she who designs the brand.”

He retorted by saying that he was referring to how magazines credit simply Prada and not Tom Ford for Gucci or Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent. “I’m certainly ignorant about fashion and luxury, but not to the extent of not knowing about Miuccia Prada,” he quipped.

The loss-making YSL business also dominated the conference call.

Mark Lee, president and ceo of YSL, declined to map out a specific plan or time frame for stemming losses, but said the network of 59 company-owned stores would be retained, with the priority being to “aggressively” increase sales, especially in rtw.

Acknowledging the brand was focused on late day and evening clothes under Ford’s creative direction, Lee said Pilati would expand the brand into “core day clothes” and the casual category.

In an interview with WWD, Lee also revealed that Pilati “was absolutely my first choice and I was definitely involved in the search since Day One.”

While praising Ford for “brilliantly” repositioning the brand, he stressed that “now [Pilati] has been freed to express his own personal vision.” Pilati’s first solo efforts will be the cruise and men’s collections in June, but the official international debut will be the spring 2005 women’s YSL collection, to be shown in October during Paris Fashion Week.
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