French designer puts shirt on Dettori to win

THE FRENCH fashion house Yves Saint Laurent has recruited a new face to represent its menswear label in Britain, writes Andrew Tuck. The unlikely model is the diminutive jockey Frankie Dettori, 26, who shot to fame when he rode seven winners in one day at Ascot in 1996.

The Marchpole Group, which runs Yves Saint Laurent in the UK, says the Italian jockey has universal appeal and "is elegant, good-looking and chic and really knows how to wear clothes." In a deal that will last three to five years, Dettori will be given - in addition to an undisclosed fee - a wardrobe of the firm's Pour Homme suits and casualwear, which he will be expected to wear whenever in public. The company has even taken charge of his underwear.

The contract came about because Michael Morris, the Marchpole Group's managing director, is a keen racegoer and a Dettori fan. And while Dettori may only stand knee-high to Rupert Everett, the actor who models in the YSL aftershave advertisements, the company insists that Dettori's stature will not prevent him featuring as a model in Yves Saint Laurent advertising campaigns.

Indeed, Dettori's picture has already been included in YSL publicity material appearing in this month's edition of the up-market travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller. But there are no plans to use him on the catwalk, for the time being at least.

Dettori's business manager, Peter Burrell, said his client had been courted by several fashion houses in recent months. "We are delighted to be associated with Yves Saint Laurent," he said. "They are really his style and he'll be wearing their clothes for the duration of the contract."