FASHION SCOOPS

Surprise Guest: Ah, the front-row drama. Alexander McQueen is among the lucky few to have been invited to Tom Ford’s hotly-anticipated Yves Saint Laurent show next week in Paris. And it appears McQueen has accepted. A YSL spokesman confirmed that Ford invited McQueen as a personal friend. Still, his presence would be intriguing, given the acrimonious battle going on between LVMH, for which he works as Givenchy designer, and Gucci Group, YSL’s parent.

Gucci Goes Shopping: So much for those injunctions that, according to LVMH, block the Gucci Group from spending its billions earmarked for acquisitions. Less than a week after Gucci and LVMH’s war of words over the status of the $2-billion cash pile, Gucci has gone out and bought itself a women’s wear factory. Well-placed sources here said that Gucci has purchased the division of Zamasport that currently produces the women’s ready-to-wear collection under license, although the company has declined to comment. The sources added that the deal was a private one, between Gucci and the Zamasport Group, and that no bankers or consultants were involved. No price has been disclosed, and the deal is expected to be announced in the near future.
In addition, Giacomo Ferraris, a former manager at Jil Sander who is known in the industry as a “production guru,” will be running the 80-person factory, which is located in the town of Novara, near Milan. In the first half of the year, sales of Gucci ready-to-wear — including the men’s collection, which is produced by Ermenegildo Zegna — rose 23 percent to $91.2 million. The new move is part of Gucci’s strategy of control. The company has been systematically cancelling licenses, shuttering franchises and generally taking back control of its Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent businesses.
Late last week, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton claimed that, in the wake of the Dutch Supreme Court’s decision to annul the ruling that sanctioned the alliance between Gucci and PPR, injunctions banning Gucci from spending the money from PPR were automatically back in place. Gucci chief Domenico De Sole said the injunctions that LVMH was referring to were provisional, that they expired last year, and that he had every intention of forging ahead with his acquisition campaign. Over the past year, Gucci has purchased — with the help of a $3 billion cash infusion from PPR — Yves Saint Laurent, Sanofi Beaute, Sergio Rossi and Boucheron in a bid to create a luxury group to rival LVMH.

Tod’s to Buy Vivier? Do the pebble-sole and the stiletto make a good pair? Diego Della Valle seems to think so. Sources here say that the owner of the Tod’s and Hogan labels has purchased the vast archives and rights to the Roger Vivier name. While a company spokesman declined to comment, it’s no secret that Della Valle is interested in expanding and diversifying his business via acquisitions, and is even planning a stock market listing in order to pump up his cash reserves. Vivier created the first stiletto heel and thigh-high boot, and also worked closely with Christian Dior. He died in 1998.

More Fuel: It looks as if Diesel is getting behind another young designer. Sources said that the jeanswear firm, which also owns Staff International, is in discussions to back Icarius de Menzes, a 24-year-old designer from Brazil,who is staging his spring show in Paris on Monday. A Diesel spokeswoman said company chief Renzo Rosso would attend the show, but declined to comment further. Diesel has recently purchased Staff International, parent of New York Industrie, and is looking to build up its stable of brands. The company has just hired Kostas Murkudis to revamp the New York Industrie line.

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