NEW YORK— Tommy Hilfiger is refocused and sticking around, no matter what happens.
With the U.S. Attorney's Office investigation behind him and prospects of new corporate ownership on the horizon, Hilfiger finds himself in an unusual situation as he celebrates his company's 20th anniversary. Yet he views the milestone as an opportunity to give his brand a fresh start.
Tonight's blockbuster fashion show at the Bryant Park tents here — which will feature 100 male and female models and will be attended by 1,200 people — is indicative of his commitment to the future. Celebrities such as Bow Wow, Alicia Keys, Rebecca Romijn, Paris Hilton, Allan Houston and the members of Duran Duran are expected to attend both the show and the after party on West 28th Street, where the Black Eyed Peas will perform.
The event is all part of Hilfiger's upbeat attitude after a year that would leave most others feeling beleaguered.
"Everyone feels very positive, and we're happy that it's over and relieved," said Hilfiger, during an interview at the company's showroom. "It was a terrible distraction."
More recently, the news that Hilfiger has hired J.P. Morgan Chase to advise on a potential sale has observers wondering whether his best days are behind him. But the designer doesn't see it that way.
"It's very exciting to me. I need excitement in my life. I thrive on it. I like change. I like doing something new, and I like to have the opportunity to be creative. A lot of companies come and go," the designer said.
Financial sources said the asking price on Hilfiger is at least $1.82 billion, but could go as high as $2.16 billion. Hilfiger himself could fetch him as much as $250 million in cash as a buyout of his contract. He was advised by his lawyers that he couldn't directly address the prospect of a sale.
Whether a sale of the company would facilitate expansion and new products and presentations, Hilfiger was honest. "I haven't been down that road yet," he responded. Still, he believes the brand is "alive and breathing and growing and it needs certain nurturing; it needs certain momentum." Should a new owner come in, his priorities would include new products, new stores, new presentations and having new creative talent come in.
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