Fashion Sense and Nonsense

Gucci will never be the same, and Miami's clothes hounds are growling

Inside the Gucci shop, however, the sales staff seems less sanguine about the future. In fact, as Kulchur wanders the starkly appointed rooms, all three saleswomen appear to be in a state of mourning, dressed completely in black.

Is the staff here sitting shiva for Tom Ford?

Saleswoman Diana Goldenberg raises an indulgent eyebrow and smiles. Black suits are their standard attire, Goldenberg patiently explains, but she admits that Ford's status has been as much a topic of conversation for her customers as for any of Gucci's own personnel. And while she's confident in the company's ability to name an able successor, "you have to have a lot of guts to follow Tom Ford."

Just such a guessing game is already the talk of Gucci aficionados. A few doors down at Bal Harbour's Neiman Marcus, saleswoman Lynn Baumhart is predicting Gucci underling Alexander McQueen will get the nod. Baumhart holds up a McQueen-designed blouse: "Look at these lines," she coos appreciatively, pointing to angles in the delicate fabric. "These are very Tom Ford," and proof McQueen was already being groomed for such a promotion. It's a display worthy of the State Department's vintage Kremlinologists, who meticulously parsed photos of Soviet leaders standing at parade attention, divining shifts in power from their proximity to each other. Of course, given that the blouse in question costs $4000, this is hardly a laughing matter.

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