In the world of fashion and luxury brands, few names are as prominent or influential as that of Domenico De Sole. For those of you who are not familiar with this remarkable man, De Sole has been at the helm of some of the most prestigious brands in the world, notably Gucci and Tom Ford. In this article, we delve deep into the life and career of De Sole, to reveal 10 things you may not know about this fashion mogul.

1. His Early Years and Education

Unlike many of his contemporaries in the fashion industry, De Sole did not come from a family with a long history in fashion or luxury goods. Born in Rome, Italy, on April 1944, De Sole was raised in Asmara, Eritrea, during the period of Italian colonial rule. He returned to Italy for his higher education and graduated from the University of Rome with a law degree.

De Sole’s fascination for guilds and international law led him to pursue higher studies in the US. He earned his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious law schools in the world, in 1971.

2. Start of His Career

After graduating from Harvard Law School, De Sole began working in the United States. He joined the international law firm, Patton Boggs & Blow in Washington, D.C and two years later became an associate member, then a partner of the firm.

Domenico De Sole’s involvement with the fashion industry started when he advised the president of the United States Shoe Corporation during his tenure at Patton Boggs & Blow. Little did he know then that he was setting foot into an industry that would later define his career.

3. The Turning Point with Gucci

De Sole’s entry into the glamorous world of fashion began with his involvement with Gucci. When the president of the US Shoe Corporation acquired Gucci in 1984, De Sole was asked to oversee the troubled Italian fashion house’s operations in Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, in 1994, he was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Gucci, marking a significant turning point in his career.

As the CEO of Gucci, he played a crucial role in rejuvenating the brand, turning it from a nearly bankrupt company to one of the world’s leading multi-brand luxury goods companies. His business savvy approach brought the brand back from the brink and set a new industry standard for luxury brand management.

4. Close Partnership with Tom Ford

Tom Ford, the American fashion designer, and film director, is another pivotal character in Domenico De Sole’s illustrious journey. When De Sole became CEO, his decision to appoint Tom Ford as creative director helped in the resurgence of the brand’s popularity. Their working relationship was beyond the everyday professional association.

Together, De Sole and Ford transformed Gucci into a leading luxury brand, and their successful collaboration reportedly increased the brand’s value from almost bankruptcy to $10 billion over a span of a decade. To this day, De Sole regards hiring Tom Ford as his most important decision at Gucci.

5. The Formation of Tom Ford International

In 2004, after leaving Gucci, De Sole together with Tom Ford established Tom Ford International, a luxury fashion house that focuses on menswear, beauty, eyewear, and accessories. As the Chairman, De Sole worked closely with Ford to set the correct strategic direction for Tom Ford International.

By adopting a business model centered on exclusivity and high-functionality, Tom Ford International quickly gained a foothold in the luxury fashion market. As of now, the brand has stores in more than 60 international locations.

6. Fight against Counterfeiting

De Sole’s battle against counterfeiting luxury goods is notable. He made Splendid Branding, a company he considered was infringing the TOM FORD trademark, to pay damages to the fashion house in a counterfeiting case in 2019.

De Sole’s resolve to fight counterfeiting is based on his passion for protecting brand integrity. He believes that counterfeit goods not only influence consumer perception of a brand negatively but also the brand value over the long run.

7. Chairmanship at Sotheby’s

In addition to his fashion endeavors, De Sole has served on the board of Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest and oldest auction houses, since 2007. He was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2015. His tenure as Chairman strengthened Sotheby’s position in the global art market and improved its digital capabilities to reach a wider audience.

His devotion to art also reflects in his personal life where he and his wife Eleanore are recognized as significant collectors of contemporary art. Their collection includes pieces from notable artists like Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, and Agnes Martin.

8. Recognition and Awards

De Sole’s contributions to the fashion industry have been acknowledged with several awards throughout his career. In 2006, he was honored with the Mefi Award, which is given to an individual who has significantly advanced the principles of free enterprise. Domenico has also been recognized by the Fashion Institute of Technology, which presented him with an Honorary Doctorate degree in 2016.

In the same year, the Savannah College of Art and Design awarded De Sole and his wife with the Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award. His leadership and influence in the fashion industry are widely recognized and his business insights are sought globally.

9. Philanthropic Activities

De Sole is also known for his philanthropic works. He and his wife are prominent donors to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where they established a scholarship fund for students of art and design. The couple has shown their generous support to various art-oriented institutions as well.

In addition, The Domenico and Eleanore De Sole Foundation have donated to a wide range of causes. These donations reflect the De Soles’ dedication to shaping the next generation of artists and their passion to support the art community.

10. Private Life

Despite his high-profile career, De Sole is known for his discretion when it comes to his private life. He is married to Eleanore, and they have two daughters, Laura and Ricki. The family resides in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where they have been living since 2002.

Known to be an avid golfer, De Sole enjoys the relaxing greens of Hilton Head Island, which also boasts a vibrant cultural scene being the home to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.

To conclude, Domenico De Sole is an immense figure in the fashion and luxury brand industry, whose journey from a young lawyer to a fashion magnate is both inspiring and extraordinary. His pragmatic and forward-thinking approach has left an indelible imprint on the global fashion scene and his contributions to society continue to reflect his passion for art and culture.

For more information, visit:

Tom Ford International
Sotheby’s
The Domenico and Eleanore De Sole Foundation