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Dec 13, 2023

Runway to Business Ep.1: Francesca Bellettini, the Wonderful Woman

How many Italian women have climbed to the top of global fashion? Francesca Bellettini did, from her hometown of Cesena to the top of the luxury giant Kering, where she now sits as the deputy CEO of the whole group.

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Her business education was crucial. Bellettini graduated in business administration in Milan, and although her career took off in fashion, she has an impressive professional financial background as her first job was at Goldman Sachs in New York and then in London. 

But the turning point came while she was working for the investment bank Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, where she met Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada, who offered her a job in the brand’s business unit in 1999. That was when Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault realised her talent.


Beyond limits. Francesca Bellettini’s unstoppable ascent within the Kering Group 

“The exception,” as dubbed by Le Monde in 2017, is a woman who joined one of the world’s most famous and historical French fashion houses, Saint Laurent, and revolutionised its financial fortunes without even speaking French. 

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Francesca Bellettini joined Kering in 2003, first at Helmut Lang as operations manager, then at Gucci as strategic planning director and associate worldwide merchandising director. Later, she landed at Bottega Veneta as a global merchandising and communications director.

In July 2013, when Bellettini took over as the CEO of Saint Laurent, replacing Paul Deneve, she quickly implemented a significant reorganisation of the company to make it more appealing to a younger audience and to increase revenue. Under her leadership, Saint Laurent’s revenue grew from 472.8 million in 2012 to its current level of 3.3 billion euros. 

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Last June, these great results convinced Pinault to appoint her deputy CEO of Kering group, making her his right-hand and probably the most powerful woman in the fashion business.


From Cesena to Paris. Unveiling the journey of a born leader in the fashion business 

Francesca Bellettini was born on April 18, 1970, in Cesena, where she grew up with two elder sisters, her father, a sawmill accountant, and her mother, a school principal. 

After living in New York and London, she now calls Paris home while continuing to globe-trot. During her nights out in the City of Lights, she honed her French skills with grammar lessons.

Francesca Bellettini lives near the Left Bank, where Saint Laurent has several shop windows, and loves running along the Seine or practising kickboxing. 

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In 2022, the Financial Times included her in the “Wonderful Women” ranking, which is dedicated to professionals who have made their mark in their respective fields. And it wasn’t just for acing French lessons that France promptly acknowledged the talents of this Italian manager. In 2019, Francesca was awarded the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest accolade, in recognition of her achievements.



Clementina Bianchi