Sander and Bertelli Split Again

Jil Sander’s on-again, off-again role at the company that bears her name is off again. The designer has departed the Prada-owned firm.

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Sander’s second exit from the Prada Group is sure to renew debate on whether a corporate mentality and creative autonomy can coexist. Pinault-Printemps-Redoute’s determination to control Gucci ultimately pushed its two stars, ceo Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford, out the door. Ford also was replaced by a team, one that received lukewarm reviews this fall for its initial efforts at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.

Sander’s departure comes as Prada attempts to reduce the debt it built up in the mergers-and-acquisitions frenzy of years past, purchasing labels such as Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Car Shoe and Azzedine Alaïa. Prada has said it wants eventually to go public and list shares on the stock exchange by June 2005, when 700 million euros, or $906.3 million at current exchange rates, of its convertible bonds expire.

Prada’s net financial debt stood at 675 million euros, or $873.9 million, at the end of last year, and the company’s goal is to cut the debt to 300 million euros, or $388.4 million, by the end of this year.

— With contributions from Alessandra Ilari and Courtney Colavita, Milan, and Melissa Drier, Berlin
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