NEW YORK — Get ready for Tom Ford the brand. 

Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole today will announce the formation of a new company to launch the label. The venture marks the first-ever Tom Ford brand, and the return of fashion’s so-called dynamic duo to the design-beauty arena they exited last year following their break from Gucci Group. According to sources, the company will be completely self-financed, with corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and a design studio in London.

The firm will launch with two deals, both of which are scheduled for signing today: a much-rumored pact with Estée Lauder and an eyewear agreement with Marcolin. Sources said these are the first two steps in what Ford and De Sole hope to develop into a major design enterprise.

Despite his impending return to design and beauty, Ford is said to remain serious about a parallel career in films. And he apparently has engaged in a bit of synergy: One Hollywood insider said Ford has incorporated his favorite color into the name of his production company, Fade to Black Productions. 

As for the new design venture, Ford will be president and chief executive officer and De Sole the chairman. The Lauder deal will be accomplished in two phases, according to several sources familiar with the terms. A limited-distribution Tom Ford for Estée Lauder collection will facilitate a relatively speedy — read holiday — appearance on the market. This should feature a tight product selection and will likely draw from Lauder’s history of marketing high-end specialty items such as compacts and other vanity accessories. The joint-label introduction would allow time to develop the deal’s ultimate goal, a stand-alone Tom Ford beauty brand, possibly premiering for fall 2006 with a women’s fragrance. This line would ultimately replace the joint-label collection.

Contrary to published reports, Ford was never in discussions to become creative director of Estée Lauder, sources pointed out. In fact, development of a stand-alone Ford line with Lauder was always the ultimate goal of negotiations. Also contrary to published reports, the prospective deal has stirred no rift within the Lauder family. One executive close to the Lauders noted that Leonard Lauder has given “an absolute 100 percent blessing” to the Ford deal and maintained that reports of a familial falling-out are fabricated, saying, “Leonard and William [Lauder’s ceo] are on the same wavelength.” William Lauder and John Demsey, the Estée Lauder division’s global brand president, were primarily responsible for putting the deal together after Leonard had an initial discussion with De Sole, his neighbor in Aspen.

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