The excitement that the Italian house generated among fashion fans under Ford was never replicated under his successor Giannini, who favoured dressing real women over Hollywood starlets – and Ford’s controversial advertising campaigns kept the brand in the headlines where the subsequent, more low-key media approach has favoured philanthropy over shock value. When the partnership between Ford and Kering owner Francois-Henri Pinault unravelled – as it did very publicly – Ford retreated from public life for several years, before establishing his eponymous label in 2006.
So how much of this speculation is wishful thinking on the part of fashion watchers – and what might stand in the way of such a return? Well the short answer is, much of it and a lot of things. Firstly, Ford’s hugely successful eponymous brand, said to be worth nearly a billion pounds, would likely not be compatible with the rigours of running Gucci. Secondly, Ford has been very vocal about the emotional and physical toll that the job took on him, as well as how pleased he was to have extricated himself from the label and taken control of a company the direction of which he governed autonomously. Thirdly, since leaving Gucci, Ford has admittedly switched the focus of his own life from business to family – marrying long-term partner Richard Buckley and welcoming a son, Alexander, who is still just two and presumably very much in need of his dad. Add to that the fact that a Ford insider, rather amused at the suggestion, asserted this morning that there was “no truth” to the rumours.
Thanks to Galliano, 2015 is already the year of the fashion comeback, but a Ford for Gucci return really would make all our sartorial dreams come true.