By  on March 8, 2005

NEW YORK — The trio is about to become a duo.

WWD has learned that Gucci’s Frida Giannini has been named the brand’s creative director for women’s ready-to-wear. She replaces Alessandra Facchinetti, who has resigned as Gucci’s women’s wear designer only two weeks after her second show in the post-Tom Ford era.

Giannini, whose appointment is expected to be announced today, will continue to be in charge of the company’s accessories for women and men.

The appointment of Giannini results from the fact that, under her creative control, Gucci’s accessories have been performing extremely well, both editorially and at retail, accounting for roughly 80 percent of sales. Equally important, however, may have been the fact the designer was offered a senior post at one of Gucci’s major competitors, spurring the management to counteroffer.

According to sources, it was Fendi, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, that tried to lure Giannini, who is no stranger to the Rome-based luxury goods house. Not only did she cut her teeth as an accessories designer there, but she also designed a small portion of its apparel.

Giannini’s appointment also is the first major move at the brand since Mark Lee took over as its chief executive officer last fall. Lee, a longtime Gucci Group executive, previously headed the Yves Saint Laurent brand. He replaced Giacomo Santucci at Gucci last October.

The change at Gucci also comes two weeks before François-Henri Pinault, head of Artemis, is set to succeed Serge Weinberg as ceo of Gucci Group parent PPR. It was Weinberg who spearheaded the design team approach at Gucci, with the appointments of Facchinetti at Gucci women’s rtw, Giannini at accessories, John Ray at Gucci men’s wear and Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent. Weinberg argued at the time: “We feel very comfortable with the decisions we have made. We are proud of their appointments and we are sure they will receive the critical acclaim that their talent deserves.”

Ray will stay on as men’s wear director at Gucci and he and Giannini will report to Lee.

“Frida has performed extremely well in all the categories she oversees with sales up significantly and with great editorial coverage,” said a source.

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