Branding: A Bid for Star Power

Can a controversial fashion designer help Estee Lauder revive its flagship brand?

Even by the high standards of the fashion industry, the buzz about Tom Ford's next move reached a fever pitch early this spring. Rumor was that the celebrity designer--who over the course of a decade helped transform the Gucci Group from a $200 million purveyor of leather goods to a $3 billion luxury conglomerate--was being wooed to be creative director of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder. Would Ford be hired to revive its flagging eponymous brand (which has lately developed a somewhat dowdy aura, putting a damper on sales)? The New York Post claimed that Leonard Lauder, the former chief executive and...

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