>> Yesterday, Yves Saint Laurent took to Twitter to dispel rumors of Stefano Pilati's imminent exit, and when reached for comment Thursday, PPR CEO Francois-Henri Pinault also firmly denied any plans to discharge the designer. In fact, he credited Pilati with helping Saint Laurent back to profitability in 2010, and just last week praised Pilati at PPR's results presentation for Saint Laurent's current momentum, and teasing him good-naturedly about filling all the upcoming new YSL stores with merchandise. As for the rumors of Pilati heading to Armani after Giorgio Armani's retirement, a house spokesperson replied: "The rumors are untrue." [WWD, Vogue UK]
>> For the better part of a year now, Stefano Pilati's standing at Yves Saint Laurent has been under intense scrutiny. After reports circulated that he had renewed his contract at the house for three more years in October, the rumors of his imminent departure subsided — until Saint Laurent CEO Valerie Hermann, who with Pilati restored the house to profitability, announced last week she was stepping down to become CEO of Reed Krakoff on April 1. She helped recruit her successor at YSL, former Lanvin CEO Paul Deneve.
Then, a couple of days ago, someone tweeted under Kenzo's PR handle: "Just heard BIG news about this being a certain designer at an established French house's last season and being replaced by someone major!!" and "CEO has just left and now the designer replaced by someone who has moved away from design the last couple of yrs but stayed in fashion." The tweets — which seem to point to Pilati as the deposed and Hedi Slimane as the successor — have since been taken down (Note that YSL is under the PPR umbrella, whereas Kenzo is part of LVMH).
Now, Hint is reporting that according to sources, Hermann didn't leave her post last week, but rather was let go because of low sales volume. And Slimane — who designed for Saint Laurent before Dior Homme — has been chosen as Pilati's replacement, partially due to his friendship (read: ability to get along) with Pierre Berge. Word is, one way or another, the matter will be addressed by a spokesperson around Paris Fashion Week.
And in the aftermath? There's already been suggestions that Carine Roitfeld with consult for Slimane at the brand, and of course, there's the rumor that Pilati is set to take over at Giorgio Armani after the designer's retirement.
The Tom Ford Influence—Alberta Ferretti Employs Real Women as Models for Pitti Show; Erin Wasson Has a New Design Collaboration
- Alberta Ferretti took a page out of Tom Ford's book and had the likes of Camilla Belle, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Poppy Delevigne, Paz de la Huerta, and Marisa Berenson walk in place of models as part of her Florentine show to open Pitti Immagine Uomo last night, for which she created an exclusive 30-piece collection [Style.com, Fashionista]
- The Costume Institute received a donation of $10 million from Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch to create a new gallery space; although this gift was the "tipping point" to start construction next year, fundraising for the project started several years ago and has been helped in large part by Anna Wintour and the Costume Institute Gala benefit [NY Times]
- Gucci Group parent company PPR just created a new business unit dedicated to developing online retail. CEO François-Henri Pinault called e-commerce a "strategic priority," adding: “My goal [is] to increase our digital presence and accelerate our growth in online sales, which should reach 10 percent of Gucci Group and Puma’s consolidated revenues over the next few years” [WWD]
- Bibhu Mohapatra, Pamela Love, Mandy Coon, The Lake & Stars, M. Patmos, and Study NY were all awarded $25,000 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation grants to put toward their upcoming New York Fashion Week shows [WWD]
- Erin Wasson is designing a capsule collection for Zadig & Voltaire [ElleUK]
- W's February 2011 cover features a first look at sweet-looking Rooney Mara's transformation into punky Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher's upcoming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film [W]
- Instead of pouting across the board as in seasons past, models have notably been captured smiling in both the Valentino and Chloe Spring 2011 ad campaigns [Garance Dore]
- Jessica Stam's left arm is in a sling after she sprained and fractured it while snowboarding in Montana over the holidays [Modelinia]
- Using the same technology that made the Death Star explode in Star Wars, Loewe blows up its Amazona bag over and over in a new brand video [Style File]
>> Linda Evangelista, 45, and billionaire Hard Rock founder Peter Morton, 64, who began dating in late 2006 when Evangelista was pregnant, split at the end of the summer after a series of disagreements, Page Six reports.
>> Is PPR Eyeing Burberry? —Reports from the UK financial markets that Burberry may be acquired — first it was by LVMH, now it seems to be PPR circling — won't die. Needless to say, Burberry is doing well — the brand experienced a 30.6 percent sales hike in the first part of the year — and PPR is reportedly in the process of building its portfolio of brands. But spokespeople from PPR and Burberry both declined to comment on the speculation. [WWD]
>> This morning, Francois-Henri Pinault, president of PPR announced: "The Alexander McQueen trademark will live on. This would be the best tribute that we could offer to him." Pinault noted that the decision was made quickly after McQueen's death, and said he was confident the house continues to hold "very important potential." Sales of McQueen clothes are reported to have surged 1,400 percent in the last week.
Robert Polet, president of Gucci Group, confirmed that the Fall 2010 collection the designer was finishing before his death will be shown at Paris Fashion Week next month. Polet said he spoke to McQueen a few weeks ago, and the two men decided that they had "transitioned from being the name of a designer to putting in place the building blocks of a brand." He recalled McQueen telling him: "That means that will be my legacy. That's something I will always leave behind."
>> This morning, a coroner's inquest confirmed that Alexander McQueen, whose body was found at his home in London last Thursday at 10:30 am, died of asphyxiation and hanging himself in his wardrobe. The inquest has not yet formally ruled the death a suicide, but police said there were no suspicious circumstances. A suicide note was found in the apartment and is being examined by police.
The inquest has been adjourned to April 28, and full details of the autopsy will be available in a few months. Despite the fact that McQueen's family is now free to hold his funeral, there has been no word on details, although it's rumored to be very, very small, and followed by a larger March memorial. A spokeswoman for London Fashion Week said an event featuring a tribute to the designer is being planned, pending approval from the McQueen family.
As for McQueen the brand, no official word yet on that either, but owner PPR has indicated it will comment on the subject when it releases its 2009 figures on Thursday.
>> Alexander McQueen Samples Recalled, Speculation on Company's Future Rises —This morning, Alexander McQueen's director of communications sent out an urgent message requesting all samples be sent back "asap" because securing "all items and garments from current and past collections" is their "immediate priority." Gucci Group remains mum on the future of McQueen the company — save CEO Robert Polet's emailed statement on the subject, which read: "What I can say is that there is a team at Alexander McQueen that has enormous talent and energy and passion that Lee was extremely proud of and I am too." A number of articles are popping up, citing luxury consultants and analysts who find the designer and his brand too inextricably linked for the company to survive without him. Noted one: "I think PPR will use this as a pretext to walk away from the McQueen brand, which has never really made any money anyway. The label just hasn't been around for long enough to be able to survive in the long term now that he is no longer there. A brand needs to have a history to live on in these circumstances and Alexander McQueen's brand doesn't have enough of a history. It's comparatively recent and its roots are not deep enough." [Heard on the Runway, Bloomberg, Times UK, AP]
>> Just as his first collection for Puma is about to hit stores next month, Hussein Chalayan has bought back Puma's majority stake in his namesake label. He originally sold to the German activewear brand, which is controlled by Gucci Group owner PPR, in February 2008.
Puma's acquisition allowed Chalayan to explore a more commercial approach to his label — for instance, he released his first ad campaign for Fall 2009. No word on how regaining control will affect his business strategy, and financial terms were not disclosed. He will, however, remain creative director at Puma.
PPR Update: Tomas Maier Recycling Unused Material for Bottega Shoes, YSL Reporting $24M Loss, and Pinault "Impressed" With Son
>> Even designers are shopping the closet when it comes to piecing together their latest collection. Fortune's Peter Gumbel writes in his new profile on Francois-Henri Pinault of PPR: "All the brands have been scouring for ways to save cash. Hiring and salaries have been frozen since last September. Bonuses for this year have been halved too. Inventiveness has become the order of the day."
Robert Polet, CEO of PPR's Gucci Group, illustrates with a story of how he found Tomas Maier on the floor of Bottega Veneta's headquarters in New York City with his shoe manager last November, going through a pile of books filled with leather and skin samples. Fortune relates: "They were checking how much of each material they had in stock, planning to use it up in the next collections. 'I left the room and thought, Wow,' Polet says. 'Finding ways to manage down inventory has almost become a sport.'"