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Gucci's rock chic hopes to roll LVHM

THE ITALIAN contingent put on a united front at the Gucci Show in Milan last night. The designer Donatella Versace and her brother, Santo, made a rare appearance in the front row, beside Domenico De Sole, Gucci's much-beleaguered chief executive officer.

The reason for the turnout? The French luxury goods company LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) has stepped up its campaign to add Gucci to its assets. The chairman of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, announced yesterday that he is suing Gucci over its latest attempts to maintain independence.

Last week, Gucci activated an employee stock ownership plan, issuing voting shares to lower-level staff who could then prevent an LVMH representative being appointed to the Gucci supervisory board at a shareholders' meeting at the end of the month.

Mr Arnault is not amused and has asked for a temporary injunction. The case goes to court today. It is worth $2.2bn (pounds 1.35bn) in sales worldwide. Mr Arnault says he can make Gucci even more profitable.

Although it has been Mr De Sole's name in the news for the past couple of weeks, last night it was Tom Ford's turn to step into the spotlight when he unveiled Gucci's autumn/winter 2000 collection. The designer gave an adoring fashion pack the quintessential rock chick for the next millennium. She has cat's eyes lined with kohl, super-sleek hair and strides out in skin-tight leather shell tops and lean, leggy jeans. She wears knee-high snakeskin boots and around her waist is tied a leather cord. Again, Mr Ford has produced a supremely focused collection.

Fashion, Review, page 9