It is believed Pilati’s experience working for large brands and supervising product development teams for sundry product categories made him a leading internal candidate to succeed Ford, either at Gucci or YSL.
Indeed, in the WWD interview, Ford said that had he stayed at Gucci Group and replaced Domenico De Sole as chief executive, a plan that had been approved by the board, he would have chosen Pilati as his successor at YSL. In a very public display of their personal relationship and mutual respect, Ford and Pilati shared a long embrace at the after-party for his Gucci farewell in Milan last month.
Sources familiar with Pilati’s abilities describe him as being extremely cultured and possessing a very refined taste — even if his creative expression at YSL was often hampered by Ford, who is known for his iron-fisted creative control.
Pilati certainly fits the mold of a star-in-waiting. Tall and handsome — with a personal style variously described as dandy and elegant — he has a penchant for velvet blazers, white trousers and small corsages. A bit of a fashion chameleon, he currently sports a neat beard and short curly hair.
A discreet character in the media-obsessed fashion scene, Pilati obeys Gucci Group’s strict policy that only Ford and De Sole are official spokesmen for the group. At Ford’s YSL finale Sunday, he declined to be photographed backstage, and he has declined all comment on his future role within the Italian fashion conglomerate.
A YSL spokesman declined all comment Wednesday.
Pilati is said to have an apartment in Paris near the Bristol Hotel, which he shares with his pet and sidekick, a white boxer, and often spends weekends in London.
Despite his relatively low profile, he is a popular figure with industry insiders. He’s remained friends with many of his former Prada co-workers, including Fabio Zambernardi, design director for Prada and Miu Miu, with whom he attended Ford’s farewell show for Gucci during Milan Fashion Week last month.