Gucci discovers sleek-line tonic for departure of Tom Ford

Gucci's reputation was riding on the house's menswear collection being shown last night in Milan.

Gucci's reputation was riding on the house's menswear collection being shown last night in Milan.

Since the shock exit of Gucci Group creative director Tom Ford last March, the company has faced an uncertain future.

The regime change was not smooth as John Ray, the Scotsman appointed to succeed Ford, showed a lukewarm debut collection last season. Though Ray had worked with Ford since 1996, he had a vast pair of loafers to fill.

But last night's show for autumn/winter 2005 was a crowd-pleasing, confident display with Gucci's sexy, slick DNA written right through it.

Ray defined the collection as "pure elegance, fuelled by the sophistication, integrity and passion of [Italian film maestro Luchino] Visconti.'' Distinguée Le Smoking jackets in oyster, black and silver satin were divinely decadent, while a silver velvet suit and baroque printed silk dressing gowns were straight out of Noël Coward's Private Lives .

Profits at Gucci are surely set to soar over and above the current 8 per cent growth with a collection as classy and commercial. As Ray says: "The essentials in clothing are found in their quality'', and this was a rich collection in every sense of the word.

Gucci's press office says: "Ray describes himself as an extremely private person.'' This reticence is in sharp contrast to his predecessor who was a permanent fixture on the Hollywood circuit, with dashing, movie-star looks. Gucci misses Ford's star quality, but Ray is looking increasingly comfortable in the hot seat.

The fate of Gucci, post Tom Ford, will be watched closely by Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the rival French luxury goods group, LVMH. In 1995, the year Ford became creative director and brought the house back from the dead, Arnault acquired a 5 per cent stake in Gucci. By 1999, LVMH's stake had increased to 27 per cent. Arnault's rival, the working-class hero Francois Pinault, the richest man in France with a fortune estimated at £3.2bn, was Gucci's white knight, and acquired 100 per cent of the Gucci Group last March.

Under the direction of chief executive Domenico de Sole and Ford, Gucci Group bought Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, the jeweller Boucheron, Sergio Rossi and Yves St Laurent.

Yet within a month of Pinault's company PPR (Pinault Printemps Redoute) finally acquiring all of the Gucci Group, the men who built the empire were out. Ford and de Sole were arguably the most glamorous and successful double act in international fashion. For Gucci Group to let them go seemed like commercial suicide.

But the front row has now had time to absorb the shock of Ford's departure and is ready for the new chapter that Ray wrote last night.

The fashion industry is also waiting with bated breath for Ford's next move. Last week, the fashion website WGSN reported that he and de Sole were in talks with the Italian luxury goods group AEFFE Spa (owned by the designer Alberta Ferretti) to launch an own-label womenswear collection. Ford denies the claim but added the intriguing proviso that he would only return to fashion in partnership with de Sole.

Ford has already published a glossy tome chronicling his decade as creative director of Gucci Group. Rumours of the former actor's return in front of, or behind, the cameras have come to nothing. Fashion misses Tom Ford, and he will doubtless be back, given an appropriate deal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Recruitment Genius: Electrician - Based in Petersfield

£19600 - £25800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in the South, based in ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate