MILAN — After 18 months of silence, the management of Gianfranco Ferré has decided it is time to talk.
Reacting to reports that the brand’s new owners, Paris Group, plan to move the business to Dubai and to leave the company’s historic Milanese via Pontaccio headquarters following the show Monday, Ferré’s new chief executive officer, Mohamad Iyad Jalab, told WWD: “We are not leaving via Pontaccio of our own free will; we were pushed out.”
As reported, a legal battle is taking place over the Ferré brand. The state-appointed commissioners who oversaw the company’s sale in February 2011 after two years of state-controlled bankruptcy protection have turned to a Milan court seeking to confiscate the brand to avoid further deterioration of its assets. They believe the label has not been developed as promised by its new owners at the time of the sale. In turn, Paris Group has sued the commissioners, asking for damages and payment of “nonexisting credits.” Paris Group is seeking 4 million euros, or $5.1 million at current exchange.
Jalab said the commissioners wrote to the late designer’s brother, Alberto Ferré, before the acquisition to say that the new buyers would not be staying in the building — a fact that has been confirmed by sources close to the commissioners, who reasoned that a higher rent under better terms could potentially be secured. “We tried to negotiate a new lease, and even buy the palazzo way above market prices, but we could not spend more on the building than the business itself. We have proposed to create a museum, but our offers were refused and we were asked to leave in June,” said Jalab, who managed to negotiate an extension until after the spring show Monday.
The ceo said the company is “talking with three major show organizers” to set up the next show in another location, likely in the central Duomo area or at the Castello Sforzesco. He also said there are plans to continue with the designers tapped to revive the brand, Stefano Citron and Federico Piaggi. “We are very proud of them, they are doing a great job and they carry forward the spirit” of the late Ferré, he said.
Sources said Friday that the commissioners continue to believe Paris Group “disregarded growth plans and did not relaunch the brand.”
Paris Group has also been accused of closing Ferré stores around the world and, in particular, the long-standing unit in Milan’s Via Sant’Andrea. Jalab contended the commissioners supported these closures and they were aware that the Milan lease was not going to be renewed by the building’s owners even before the sale. He added that a new Ferré store will open in Milan by the end of the year.
Jalab underscored the fact that Paris Group has “no intention to move the brand to another region, and [plans] to maintain it in Italy, and in Milan, in particular.” He also said that there are no plans to dismantle the ITC plant in Bologna.
He also questioned why, before the sale, the commissioners signed a number of licenses for the brand with an offshore company based in the Virgin Islands “with contractual conditions well below market value.”
The license with that company, called Lure Ltd., allowed the distribution of any kind of product, including tiles, in China and 14 other countries in the Far East, he said. “[It’s] a market that through licenses used to generate profits of 15 million euros [$19.5 million at current exchange] and that the commissioners transformed into one valued at 40,000 euros, [$52,000] yearly,” said Jalab, pointing to Lure Ltd.’s right to use the brand’s name until 2026, with automatic renewal. “Is this the way to preserve the spirit of the designer?” wondered Jalab, lamenting, “continuous attacks by everyone” and admitting regrets about investing in Italy. “Why not help investors to do business in Italy?”
Jalab said Paris Group has invested 80 million euros, or $104 million, so far in the fashion house, as certified by Deloitte & Touche, Paris, and paid Ferré’s debts.
Dubai-based Paris Group was founded by Abdulkader Sankari 30 years ago, and has 250 stores and 4,000 employees in 35 countries. It manages partnerships with brands including Versace, Hugo Boss and Balmain. Jalab said the group is negotiating to acquire another international fashion brand, although he declined to provide details.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)