PARIS — Tom Ford’s impact on the Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci beauty businesses goes far beyond the cosmetic. Simply put, he did more than help give the brands a makeover — he brought controversy back to them.

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As creative director at both YSL and Gucci, Ford’s thumbprint was on everything, from a fragrance’s juice to its packaging and its advertising. The latter, particularly, caused tongues to wag.

In fall 2001, the ad for Nu (Nude, in English), YSL’s new men’s scent that Ford created with Chantal Roos, president and chief executive officer of Gucci’s beauty division, YSL Beauté, really turned consumers’ heads with its intermingled male and female limbs.

Ford then continued the skin-is-in theme for the print visual for YSL’s men’s fragrance, called M7, in fall 2002. This time, everything was bared — the ad showed a man reclining in the buff.

YSL-branded beauty products were credited with helping drive last year’s 6 percent growth from YSL Beauté — which also boasts beauty brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Oscar de la Renta, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. The division registered $626.3 million in sales, or 544.6 million euros at current exchange, in the period. And that sum constituted more than 20 percent of Gucci Group’s total business in 2002, making YSL Beauté the firm’s second-largest netting arm after the Gucci division.

Gucci beauty really reentered the scene in 1997 with the launch of the women’s scent, Envy, produced by Ford and Wella AG’s prestige Cosmopolitan Cosmetics division, which reportedly holds the Gucci Parfums license through 2028.

Another scent to bolster the brand was Gucci Rush, launched in 1999. The concept was glossy and provocative, including its rapturous advertising showing three models in advanced states of ecstasy, scarlet box-cum-bottle and heady scent.

And the most recent entrant is Gucci Eau de Parfum 2, a pink fragrance in a heavy bottle just introduced in Asia and currently being rolled out in the U.S. and Europe.

Gucci is reportedly Cosmopolitan Cosmetics’ number-one beauty brand, followed by Escada and Rochas. According to industry sources, Gucci Parfums’ business generated $184 million in wholesale sales last year.

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