YOU DON’T SAY: Been wondering what LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault makes of all the speculation swirling around Gucci Group, and the possibility that Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole could leave if their autonomy is compromised by Gucci’s majority owner, François Pinault? At a news conference Tuesday morning to announce LVMH’s 2002 profits, Arnault made a statement that caused the audience of analysts and journalists to gasp. Boasting about the design talent in his group, from John Galliano and Marc Jacobs to Hedi Slimane, he quipped: "We get along with our designers," he said, "and they are treated in a very professional way."

Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon, Gucci's London press office released a brief statement addressed to "all fashion teams and subs" asking them to amend their magazine credits to read "by Gucci." Most editors were already aware six months ago that Gucci Group had dropped Ford’s name from both the Gucci and YSL credits. But why put it in writing now? Sources close to Gucci say it was just a simple clarification for those editors who were still confused about what to do. But it seems the statement has sparked more questions and answers, fueling speculation about whether Ford and De Sole will stay or leave the group when their contracts expire next year. A Gucci spokesman could not be reached for comment.

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