NEW YORK — Domenico De Sole has given up one board seat and gained another.
De Sole on Friday resigned as a director of Procter & Gamble Co. to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest arising from the beauty deal that he and Tom Ford made Tuesday with rival Estée Lauder Cos. Meanwhile, he has joined the board of Italian men’s wear brand Ermenegildo Zegna SpA.
De Sole, 61, has been a P&G director for four years. A spokeswoman for De Sole stressed that he decided on his own that it would be prudent to resign, rather than risk even the appearance of a conflict. She added that De Sole had informed the board in advance of business partner Tom Ford’s plans to make a deal with Lauder, and he kept the board apprised.
“I have greatly enjoyed my work as a P&G director over the past four years,” De Sole stated Friday.
“I am stepping off the board so I can focus additional time on a variety of businesses, including my new venture with Tom Ford and Estée Lauder. It has been an honor to serve this great company and I remain confident about its future successes.”
De Sole and Ford formed a luxury design house, called Tom Ford, with De Sole serving as chairman. Several weeks ago, reports were circulating that the partners had first been in talks with P&G about the possibility of doing a Ford beauty brand. Ford, P&G and De Sole’s spokeswoman all have declined comment.
However, P&G accepted De Sole’s resignation Friday afternoon, effective immediately. “Domenico De Sole has made important contributions to the company and to the work of P&G’s board, for which we are thankful,” said A.G. Lafley, P&G chairman and chief executive officer. “We have benefitted greatly from his wisdom and experience and wish him continued success.”
Meanwhile, Zegna sees De Sole as key to its plans to evolve from a men’s wear leader to a preeminent global brand.
In an exclusive interview at the company’s offices here last week, Zegna co-ceo Gildo Zegna put months of speculation to rest when he simultaneously confirmed the official addition of De Sole to the Zegna board and squelched rumors the De Sole connection would eventually lead to a Zegna-produced Tom Ford men’s collection.“The Zegna family wants to create more value to the Zegna brand and Domenico will help us do that,” said Zegna. “My responsibility is to Zegna and to utilize De Sole as a partner….He will make us better managers and thus a better brand so that we can maintain [market] leadership.”
As reported, De Sole has been spotted for the past couple of months at Zegna headquarters in Italy and was initially said to be advising the company on its activities in Asia. However, Zegna said De Sole’s role as a board member, which started in an official capacity on March 1, was wide-ranging and that his input would encompass all Zegna initiatives and strategies.
His addition to the board brings its membership to seven and its non-family representation to three.
Over the past five years Zegna has taken aggressive steps to increase its revenue and visibility by developing product extensions, such as its footwear collection, produced through a joint venture with Ferragamo; the launch of the trendier Z Zegna line, and most recently an eyewear license with Italian manufacturer De Rigo.
Yet, according to Zegna, there is still much to be done: “De Sole will help us speed up strategy so that we have quicker results that will bring us further growth, whether in accessories, emerging markets or retail.”
Growth is a top priority for Zegna and his cousin, co-ceo Paolo Zegna.
The company reported that 2004 net profits climbed 14.4 percent to 44.5 million euros, or $55.2 million, from 39 million euros, or $44.1 million, in the previous year.
Consolidated revenues advanced 5.5 percent to 634 million euros, or $786.2 million, from 601 million euros, or $679.1 million, in 2003. Dollar figures are converted from the euro at average exchange.
At the end of the year, there were 408 Zegna stores, 167 of them directly owned by the firm. A year earlier there were 388 units, 141 owned by the firm.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast