“Magnificent. It was really Saint Laurent.”

That’s how François-Henri Pinault, who will chart Gucci Group’s future without Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole, described Ford’s final collection for the house.

Pinault-Printemps-Redoute chief executive Serge Weinberg, despite being the recent target of some barbs from Ford, echoed Pinault’s sentiments. “It was very beautiful.” Asked if he was sorry to see Ford go, Weinberg would only repeat his statement: “It was very beautiful.”

In a dramatic denouement to the international fashion season, political intrigue and a real sense of history permeated the build-up and aftermath of Ford’s final farewell, three-and-a-half years after taking up the French house.

Smiling broadly and with his signature self-control, Ford took his final stroll down the red runway as the crowd erupted in a euphoric ovation. He made a beeline for De Sole, embraced him and bowed in homage, motioning to the photographers as if to say, “He’s the man.”

Then he continued down the runway all the way to the photo pit and back, but not even glancing as he passed the Pinaults and Weinbergs, who departed immediately after the show.

Instead of disappearing backstage, Ford lingered on the runway to embrace friends and fans with a constellation of cameras recording every moment.

Before the show, designers and celebrities paid their respects — and voiced regret.

“I’m a great admirer of Tom,” said Valentino Garavani. “It’s a pity they made this decision. I hope he comes back very soon with all of us.”

It was a refrain heard over and over.

“I am very sad that Yves is gone, and now Tom is leaving, too. We are losing all the good talent,” lamented Bianca Jagger. “[Tom] is a man who really understands women.”

“[Tom] is definitely a one-off. They broke the mold with they made him,” said Stella McCartney. “It’s a new beginning. I’m obviously sad and it’s an extremely emotional moment for those who worked and devoted their lives to the incredible duo of Tom and Domenico. But we must move forward. Anyway, they’re going to kick ass at whatever they do.”“It’s always a little sad, but every time a door closes, a thousand open,” said Diane von Furstenberg.

Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein echoed the thought. “The collection was Tom at his best. It was a great send-off and it’ll open a lot of doors for him.”

No one was willing to propose a successor to Ford.

Jagger would only say, “He’d better be good because he has to fill Yves’ shoes and Tom Ford’s boots and it’s going to be extremely difficult. I wish whomever it is all the luck in the world.”

Like at his Gucci send-off in Milan, Ford kept the red-carpet quotient to a minimum, although there were enough intriguing personalities strolling into the YSL tent to keep the flashbulbs popping, including iconic model Veruschka, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein, filmmaker Roman Polanski and his wife and sometime YSL model Emmanuelle Seigner, and Alexandra Miller with Tim Jeffries.

Among the unexpected front-row guests was CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, attending her first fashion show — but as a friend of Ford and his partner, Richard Buckley, not on assignment.

Later, Amanpour was caught in the crush of congratulations — and said she would stick with international conflict. But she pronounced the collection as “beautiful. It’s amazing to see an artist’s work.”

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