Luxury in shock, designer Alessandro Michele leaves Gucci

Alessandro Michele in his Milan office during the launch of his first jewelry collection for Gucci. Stefan Gigthal

The Roman designer who has revived the luxury house for the past seven years, propelling it to the rank of pop culture phenomenon, announces his departure from the artistic direction.

The American magazine WWD prepared people’s minds by relaying rumors about the departure of Alessandro Michele of the artistic direction of Gucci, this November 23. The Florentine house, in the bosom of Kering, formalized the announcement a few hours later.

There are times when paths diverge due to the different perspectives each of us may have, Michele says in the statement. Today ends for me an extraordinary journey that has lasted more than twenty years, in a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated my love and my creative passion. During this long period, Gucci has been my home, my adoptive family. To this extended family, to all the people who took care of it and supported it, I address my most sincere thanks, and I embrace them from the bottom of my heart. At their side I desired, dreamed, imagined. Without them none of what I have built would have been possible. To them I therefore address my most sincere wishes: may you continue to nourish yourself with your dreams, the delicate and impalpable matter which makes life worth living. May you continue to nourish yourself with poetic and inclusive imaginations, while remaining faithful to your values. May you always live from your passions, driven by the wind of freedom. »

New outlets

Released from the shadows in December 2014 by the president of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri (himself appointed by François-Henri Pinault a few weeks earlier), Alessandro Michele had started his career in accessories at Fendi in the early 1990s, then was became the right arm of Frida Giannini, the previous artistic director of the house. From his first show, in January 2015, he had imposed his style, initiated the movement gender fluid followed by the entire industry and brought the brand back to the red carpets thanks in particular to its friendship with actor Jared Leto and singer Harry Styles.

Alessandro Michele and Harry Styles at the Met Gala in New York, in May 2019 Gucci

Eight years have passed. And fashion is looking for new outlets, the brand which had experienced insolent growth in recent times, had weakened since the pandemic with regard to its competitors like Louis Vuitton and Hermès. Before last summer, Kering management would have asked its brands to develop more timeless products, aware that the trend of streetwear, logos but also a form of extravagance embodied by Michele, was logically coming to an end. , due to the fashion cycle, the threat of a global recession, and a certain sobriety in all sectors. The 49-year-old designer has probably passed the age of compromise, delaying (or even refusing) to make the requested turn, such as launching more “commercial” men’s suits. But an artistic director must be at the service of the house that employs him, to be part of its heritage and to ensure that financial objectives are achieved.

A strained relationship

WWD also evoked a relationship that had recently become strained with Marco Bizzarri. He nevertheless recalled, in the press release, the immense role played by Michele in this rebirth: “ I had the chance to meet Alessandro at the end of 2014. Since then, we have had the pleasure of working closely together as Gucci charted its course for success over the past eight years. I would like to thank him for his twenty years of commitment to Gucci, as well as for his vision, his dedication, and his unconditional love for this exceptional house as Creative Director. »

Just like François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering: “ The path traveled together by Gucci and Alessandro in recent years is unique, and will remain as an extraordinary moment in the history of the house. I am grateful to Alessandro for investing himself in such a personal way in this adventure. His passion, imagination, fantasy and culture have helped put Gucci back in the limelight, where it belongs. I wish him the best for the rest of his creative journey.»

The last Gucci fashion show last September in Milan featured a cast of identical or false twins. Gucci

Divergences

The vision of the brand and that of Alessandro Michele diverged. But the stylist’s universe is so powerful, so personal that we can hope to find it in fashion or elsewhere (he is also a great jewelry collector and an esthete in all respects). Gucci announces, meanwhile, that it is now the design studio in place that will assume creative responsibility until a new organization is announced.

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