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Ford on the Record: Tom Blasts Weinberg, Gucci Team Strategy

In a candid and wide-ranging interview, Tom Ford shares more than a few words on his Gucci life, the big exit and what’s next.

Backstage after Gucci

Backstage after Gucci.

Photo By David Yoder

PARIS — “Money had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was about control.”

In those words, Tom Ford denied recent rumors that his salary demands were the deal-breaker that ultimately ended his and Domenico De Sole’s reigns at Gucci Group and with it, a dazzling 10-year moment in fashion. “We had always been very clear that it was important that we maintain control of the company…it’s clear to me that Serge [Weinberg, chief executive officer of Gucci’s parent Pinault-Printemps-Redoute] intends to control the company.”

Three days before presenting his eighth Yves Saint Laurent collection, his last under the auspices of Gucci Group, the man whose presence has dominated this collection season sat for an exclusive interview with WWD at the Yves Saint Laurent headquarters here, in the spacious office he will vacate on April 30, completion date for the now infamous Gucci Group put.

While honoring an agreement with PPR executives not to discuss the particulars of the contract negotiations, Ford maintained that both sides had agreed on the matter of money. “All I can say is the financial settlement had been reached,” he said. “Both Domenico and I agreed to take less than we had over the past five years. I was going to sign a seven-year contract. Domenico was going to sign a two-year contract.”

Ford also stated that two years ago, “it was approved by the board that I would replace Domenico as ceo” upon De Sole’s retirement. “Before this deal fell apart, that was the plan of succession. Then came the turn of events.”

WWD: Let’s start with the news of the day, the reports that your successors have been chosen. (Alessandra Facchinetti, Alfreda Giannini and John Ray at Gucci women’s, men’s and accessories, respectively, and Stefano Pilati at YSL).

TF: Well, first of all, we don’t have confirmation. With Gucci it’s a different thing than with Saint Laurent because it’s a very different idea of a business model. And I have to say reading all the press today the one thing that I take some issue with is this idea of “star system” versus “nonstar system.” The reality is when I started at Gucci I wasn’t a star. A star becomes a star because what they do sells and because they perform. So if any of the people that are put in charge at Gucci are successful, they will become stars.
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