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.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
footballBut the Newcastle United midfielder's news has 'left his mistress furious'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style