PARIS — The rumor mill surrounding Gucci Group is moving into high gear, with intensified speculation that Alexander McQueen is indeed headed for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.
But there’s a new twist in the post-Tom Ford saga. While Narciso Rodriguez’s name was floated last month as the leading candidate for the Gucci saddle, it appears the selection committee is more likely to go with a group effort instead.
Sources said Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, which controls Gucci, wants to maintain Gucci’s powerful creative team and perhaps add another key Ford-trained talent: Stefano Pilati, women’s design director at YSL, who had initially been considered a potential successor to Ford at Paris-based YSL.
Meanwhile, sources said separately Friday that Gucci Group has been quietly shopping around its troubled jewelry and perfume firm Boucheron in order to concentrate on its other fashion businesses, which include Sergio Rossi, Bottega Veneta and Stella McCartney.
However, a Gucci spokesman denied on Friday that Boucheron was on the block.
Meanwhile, on the creative front, speculation reached a fevered pitch on the eve of men’s fashion week in Milan. Ford shows his last men’s collection for Gucci on Wednesday, while McQueen unveiled his new signature line for men on Sunday.
A group design approach at Gucci in the future is said to be particularly appealing to the selection committee because it could build on the label’s success by putting the focus more on products and less on personalities. That, in turn, would represent a strategic turnabout from the so-called “star system” that dominated international fashion in the Nineties.
While long toiling in the background of fashion, Pilati is well-known to fashion insiders as instrumental in the new-era YSL. He joined YSL in March 2000 from Prada Group, where he designed for the Miu Miu brand.
Among notable members of the Gucci design group is Alessandra Facchinetti. Intimates describe her as talented, methodical and organized. She previously worked at Prada.
Serge Weinberg, chief executive officer of PPR and a member of the selection committee, has long praised Pilati and the wealth of creative talent in the luxury group behind the front-man Ford. He has otherwise remained mum on the subject and vowed not to announce successors to Ford and Gucci Group chief executive officer Domenico De Sole until after Ford has shown his final women’s collections for Gucci in late February and YSL in March.Reached last week after returning from a vacation in Bahia, Brazil, Rodriguez declined all comment. But there were said to be several stumbling blocks to Rodriguez’s candidacy, sources said.
Numerous sources stressed on Friday that no contracts have been signed with Ford’s replacements. A spokeswoman for François-Henri Pinault, chairman of family holding Artemis and a member of the selection committee, declined all comment. The other member of the selection committee is Adrian Bellamy, chairman of Gucci Group’s supervisory board.
In fact, PPR may face an uphill climb in convincing the “enfant terrible” McQueen to take up the reins at YSL — even if it is one of the plum jobs in fashion. Sources said McQueen was a no-show at one of the first meetings organized in London to talk about the YSL design post, but it is believed discussions are now proceeding in a normal manner.
McQueen is also said to be seeking assurances that Gucci Group will step up investment in his signature fashion house. One of McQueen’s frustrations when he was designing Givenchy, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, was that it took time away from building his own business, which at that time he owned completely. McQueen has repeatedly stated throughout the years that his personal goal is to build the McQueen name into a global brand rivaling Giorgio Armani or Polo Ralph Lauren. Gucci Group currently owns 51 percent of McQueen, with the designer owning the remainder.
As for Boucheron, a sale of the company would not be surprising, given the challenges Gucci Group has faced in getting the brand sparkling.
Earlier this year Gucci Group put on ice an ambitious expansion plan for Boucheron, opening a Bottega Veneta flagship in New York in a Fifth Avenue space originally earmarked for a Boucheron store. Year-old shops in Honolulu and Milan were also shuttered.
“Developing and producing jewelry takes much longer than in fashion,” De Sole told WWD in an interview last fall. Asked in a separate interview if Boucheron was for sale, De Sole responded, “You can never say never.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)