Guillaume Meilland

MILAN – Salvatore Ferragamo SpA continues to shake up its designer and executive ranks. After announcing the appointment of Fulvio Rigoni as women’s ready-to-wear design director earlier this week, the company said Thursday it has named Guillaume Meilland as men’s ready to wear design director.

Meilland’s designs will bow in January. The group now has a trifecta of designers, as in September Paul Andrew was named design director of women’s footwear and Fulvio Rigoni as women’s ready-to-wear design director. Rigoni debuted his looks on the catwalk in September.

Former creative director Massimiliano Giornetti, who was in charge of all categories, exited the company in March.  Before leaving in August, former chief executive officer Michele Norsa said the company was going to rely on an in-house team.

“I am convinced that the work of these three designers, each with his own unique background but all united by their love of beautiful design and an immense, innate creativity in the service of research and innovation, will contribute to further strengthen our brand’s image, which the company has always developed upon the foundation of its internationalism,” said new chief executive officer Eraldo Poletto.  “Each of the three new designers was selected for his ability to interpret the DNA of this brand which will continue to dictate how its identity is shaped in the light of its heritage and iconic style.”

Meilland began his career in 2002 at Louis Vuitton Menswear. In 2007, he took over men’s sportswear design for Yves Saint Laurent, and in October of the following year he was named senior designer of Lanvin Menswear, a position he left for Ferragamo. “This is a momentous challenge and I plan to draw on the brand’s history and heritage to create modern men’s collections that look to the future,” said Meilland.

“For nearly a century, Salvatore Ferragamo has been a unique name for design and craftsmanship in the shoe industry,” said Andrew, whose first collection for the Florence-based brand will bow for pre-fall 2017. “This is why it is such an honor to be asked to lead the future creative vision for the women’s footwear division, precisely where the legend began. I hope to bring a fresh perspective to the company, meeting the demands of the market today and combining the strength of Salvatore Ferragamo’s heritage and its productive power with luxury design and the very latest innovations in materials and technique.” In 2013, he founded the shoe brand that bears his name and the following year he was named winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

Prior to Salvatore Ferragamo, Rigoni worked at brands including Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander and, most recently, Christian Dior, where he designed both ready-to-wear and haute couture. “After living abroad for many years, I am happy to return to Italy and work for a company with such an important history,” said Rigoni. “The Ferragamo archive is a huge treasure trove, the only one of its kind in the world. I don’t think you can do my job well without respectfully taking this archive into consideration and my challenge will be precisely that of giving appeal from the past a contemporary makeover.”

Ferragamo’s choice mirrors that of Gucci in March 2004, when Alessandra Facchinetti, John Ray and Frida Giannini succeeded Tom Ford at the creative helm of that brand, responsible for women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories, respectively. That triumvirate did not last long as Giannini was named Gucci’s creative director for women’s ready-to-wear a year later, succeeding Facchinetti who resigned two weeks after her second show. Ray stepped down as Gucci’s mens’ wear designer in 2006.

Meilland’s appointment comes on the heels of Ferragamo’s report on Monday of its performance in the first nine months of the year. In the period, net profit edged up 0.2 percent to to 112.5 million euros, or $124.8 million on a small dip in revenues, which slid 0.7 percent to 1.01 billion euros, or $1.12 billion. In a conference call with analysts, Poletto said the company was going to further focus  on product, especially the struggling footwear and leather goods categories, outlining his strategy for the first time, as Ferragamo reported a slowdown, affected by geopolitical uncertainty, currency fluctuations and a soft business climate in the Asia-Pacific region, which has been traditionally strong for the company. He also spoke of prioritizing retail operations so that they would be more customer-centric, improving the performance of existing stores to make them more efficient.

Salvatore Ferragamo shares closed up 0.75 percent to 20.13 euros, or $21.57 at current exchange rates.

Shares were hit by the release of the group’s performance in the nine months and several analysts expressed caution. Goldman Sachs cited “better-than-expected LFL momentum and tighter cost control” on the upside, but “negative leverage from lower growth, suboptimal network expansion, slower travel retail trends and cost inflation,” on the downside.

Analysts at Mediobanca  Securities, with a “neutral” recommendation, “advised the group to focus on a revision of its strategy, also to have a more definite idea of the prospects for Ferragamo in the luxury arena.”

After a “hold” rating, Equita analysts said that they “believe in the possibility for the ceo to extract more growth,” but preferred to wait for details on strategy and “increased visibility on the numbers in the short-term.”

While waiting for the presentation of the new strategy expected in January, Banca Akros said the “maison is an interesting reality […] in the Italian fashion system, given the intact attractiveness of the brand and its return potential, which, as of today, is inferior to the average in the sector.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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