MILAN — Referring to the short-lived marriage between Lars Nilsson and the house of Ferré, IT Holding’s Tonino Perna believes that in the case of divorce, it’s always better when children aren’t involved.
This story first appeared in the February 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The children in this case would have been the fall designs that would have marked Nilsson’s debut at Ferré next Monday. Needless to say, the buzz was mounting but, as reported, Ferré parent IT Holding SpA split with Nilsson on Friday with no reason given.
“It was an unpleasant decision to take, also because I respect Nilsson, he is a nice and professional person. It’s no one’s fault, but the relationship didn’t work out and we thought it would be better to interrupt it before the show,” Perna, IT Holding’s chairman, told WWD on Monday.
He stressed the premature end to Nilsson’s tenure was part of the designer’s contract and didn’t involve any extra costs for the group.
When problems started developing with Nilsson, Perna asked Ferré’s in-house design team to develop fall looks that were a contemporary rendition of the Ferré style codes.
“What we learned when Ferré passed away was that the designer not only left us with a great brand but he had also trained a very seasoned and capable design team,” said Perna.
According to sources, Nilsson not only steered away from Ferré’s aesthetic but he didn’t bond with the design teams, especially with the men’s wear one that was hostile to him. But his supporters pointed out the teams were already in place when he arrived and he needed time to adjust to a staff that had worked with Ferré for years. Yet another source described Nilsson’s debut approach as “very Italian: chic and salable.”
Many agreed the Swedish designer had a lot on his plate, but his diffidence probably led him to misjudge his workload. According to one source, Nilsson did not take advantage of the teamwork approach that would have taken some weight off his shoulders. “It’s always hard to replace a designer who has poured his heart and soul for decades to build a fashion brand,” said a source familiar with the house.
Most people confirmed IT Holding went to great lengths to supply Nilsson with the support he needed and to produce the clothes for Monday’s show.
Nilsson was not available for comment Monday.
Perna said a creative director will replace Nilsson. “A creative director today must have managerial skills in guiding a team and must also understand the market direction and the consumers’ needs, especially when you have different lines and a wide product range. It’s not easy to find someone with all these requisites,” he said.
Aside from the Ferré main line, the house also produces the Ferré Milano diffusion line and the younger GF Ferré label.