Ralph Toledano confirms departure from Puig Group to Fashion Network
Ralph Toledano has left his position as president of the fashion division of the Puig Group, as well as the presidency of both Nina Ricci and Jean Paul Gaultier. One of the most respected executives in French fashion and luxury, Toledano will remain president of the Chambre Syndicale, French fashion’s governing body. It’s a position he has held since 2014.
“I actually departed at the end of January. I left because I had done what had to be done in terms of putting Jean-Paul Gaultier on right track and having introduced all the ingredients for success at Nina Ricci, as Guillaume Henry showed in his latest show this month,” Toledano told FashionNetwork.com.
Toledano has long been known as a brilliant talent spotter. While at Guy Laroche in the late Nineties, he discovered and hired Alber Elbaz, igniting one of the most exciting careers in fashion in the past two decades. Toledano also hired Guillaume Henry for Nina Ricci and Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne – two critically acclaimed young French designers.
“I had done my job and it was time to go on. I really enjoyed those five years – especially working with the teams I had put together. There are now great people in place,” added Toledano. He revealed to Fashion Network that he will return to an already-identified executive position in the fall after taking a well-deserved break.
At Nina Ricci, Toledano appointed Sophie Templier as the new managing director of the house. “Sophie had worked with me for 15 years and I had been grooming her to take over,” added Toledano, who also named a new managing director at Gaultier, Sophie Waintraub.
At Gaultier, he managed the down-sizing of that designer’s fashion department – shuttering his loss making ready-to-wear business, though maintaining his haute couture business. Gaultier’s perfume division, once owned by Shiseido of Japan, has been highly profitable, and came under Puig’s control last year.
During the past two years, Kering changed over half the CEOs in his stable of luxury companies; while Burberry hired a new CEO from Céline, Marco Gobbetti, and Ralph Lauren dismissed its CEO Stefan Larsson. Asked if he thought his departure was an expression of upheaval in upper management in fashion, Toledano dismissed the idea.
“I’d say at Kering, we have witnessed the end of Tom Ford’s gang from the original Gucci Group – and that took nearly a decade to happen,” said Toledano, referring to the American designer who together with then Gucci CEO Domenico De Sole acquired a slew of brands – notably, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen - in an acquisition binge at the beginning of the century for the group that would become Kering.
Turning to Burberry, Toledano argued that that company had, “simply realized it was a poor idea having a designer (Christopher Bailey) also be the CEO, and after two years they hired a top ranked executive, Gobbetti, to correct that. And I recall that Marco had been at LVMH for about a decade. While in Ralph Lauren, I’d say it was the classic story of the difficult of bringing in a new a manager into a family-controlled business.”
However, he conceded: “There is a scapegoat system. If things don’t go well, either blame the CEO or the designer. And, in actual fact, the market is difficult today.”
Based in Barcelona, the Puig Group is one of Europe’s ten largest luxury groups, garnering most of its revenues from its perfume business – principally for the four fashion houses it owns – Carolina Herrera and Paco Rabanne, besides Ricci and Gaultier. The family-owned group also creates under license the perfumes of Valentino, Prada and Comme des Garçons. While the Puigs have grown their perfume interests into a substantial business, with turnover of some 1.5 billion euros annually; their investments in fashion have been less spectacular. There is a perception that a certain Catalan swagger and attitude that their own group somehow rivals the position that Barcelona FC holds in football has made the Puigs less-than-wise managers of fashion houses, dependent on granting sensitive designers creative independence and backing them up financially.
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