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Stefano Pilati Said Headed to Milan

The designer, who exited as Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director in March, has already landed a big job, WWD has learned.

PARIS — Stefano Pilati, who exited as Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director in March, has already landed a big job, WWD has learned.

According to market sources, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group plans to take on the Italian-born designer. Specifics about Pilati’s title, job responsibilities and start date could not immediately be learned. An announcement could come as early as this week.

Neither Pilati nor Zegna officials could be reached for comment at press time on Monday.

The development seems to signal that the Italian men’s wear powerhouse is ready to further ramp up its fashion credentials with a well-known and seasoned talent, known for his suave personal style and experience at big brands.

Pilati would also be a known quantity at Zegna, since the firm produced some men’s wear for YSL, where Pilati had worked since 2000, initially as women’s design director under then-creative director Tom Ford. Before that, Pilati worked in senior design and fabric development positions for a number of Italian design houses, including Miu Miu, Prada and Giorgio Armani.

At YSL, Pilati had a fruitful, if turbulent, eight-year run at the creative helm. Hedi Slimane, a men’s wear maverick best known for an electrifying stint at Dior Homme, succeeded Pilati at YSL and is to show his first runway collection here next month.

Although he was inconsistent with his YSL shows — garnering raves one season, lukewarm reviews the next — Pilati designed an array of winning handbags and shoes that helped the firm log continual business improvement, finally emerging from the red in 2010.

Reporting first-half results last July, PPR said YSL sales catapulted 46.4 percent in the six months to 223.5 million euros, or $290 million at average exchange rates.

Pilati would arrive at Zegna, a private, family-run company, at a time of strong growth and development. Net profits in 2011 rose 91.5 percent to 115.1 million euros, or $149.6 million, on the back of record sales of 1.13 billion euros, or $1.47 billion. Sales, fueled mainly by foreign markets, increased 17 percent on the previous year.

At the end of 2011, Zegna had 557 stores worldwide, of which 311 are fully owned.

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group also owns Agnona, a women’s luxury brand, and is stepping up the expansion of its retail operations. It recently named Bruno Laguardia as Agnona’s chief executive officer, effective since Jan. 1.