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Alessandro Michele leaves Gucci

Alessandro Michele, the 49-year-old man who emerged from the anonymous caverns of the design department to revolutionize Gucci, will leave the brand, Gucci announced in a statement today.

In the press release, Marco Bizzarri, Gucci Chairman and CEO, thanked Michele for his dedication to the house over the past eight years, “and for his vision, devotion and unconditional love for this unique brand.” François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, which owns Gucci, said what Michele achieved will long be considered an important period in the brand’s history: “Her passion, her imagination, her ingenuity and her culture put Gucci at center stage. where is your place. I wish him a great next chapter in his creative journey.”

For her part, Michele called Gucci “my home, my adoptive family,” thanking her team and everyone who supported Gucci for their gratitude. “May you continue to nourish yourselves with a poetic and inclusive imagery, remaining faithful to your values. May you always live from your passions, driven by the wind of freedom.

Speculation about the announcement began on Tuesday night, when an unidentified source I told WWD that the designer’s departure was imminent. A “well-placed source” told the newspaper that parent company Kering “asked Michele to initiate a strong design change” at the brand; Gucci had been a juggernaut for the conglomerate since Michele introduced his first collection for the brand in 2015, but in 2021, Industry insiders began to speculate if the energy around the label had cooled.. Occasionally, there were comments about whether the magpie aesthetic Michele developed—that of a global traveler, a gender-fluid hipster with a flair for Hollywood and history, accessorized to the hilt—might be stuck. A Resort show, staged at a castle in Puglia in May, was well received for her uncanny sensuality, and the spring 2023 collection modeled by 68 pairs of twins won praise as a casting feat, but perhaps this wasn’t enough. .

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Or maybe Pinault just wants the brand to head in another direction. Gucci is considered the main brand of Kering, generating over $6 billion in revenue in 2021Although in recent years Balenciaga, led by creative director Demna, and Saint Laurent, led by Anthony Vaccarello, have also been stars of the conglomerate. Bottega Veneta also saw record growth under mercurial designer Daniel Lee, who left the brand under a flurry of controversy in November 2021 (and was recently announced as Burberry’s new chief creative officer), later succeeded by his second-in-command. . Matthieu Blazy. That shakeup has led to a more subtle, but no less extraordinary expression of cognoscenti luxury and elegance, though if Pinault has that in mind as a playbook, or if he sees the “New New Bottega,” as it’s known, as a benchmark of changing tastes, it is of course impossible to say.

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From the moment Michele presented his first collection for the house, a menswear show at Milan Men’s Fashion Week in January 2015, he caused ripples that changed the entire fashion industry, both aesthetically and in style. business. Michele was plucked from relative obscurity, having worked at the brand since 2002 with Tom Ford, and the move all but mocked the habit of bold designer appointments that usually generate buzz in the fashion world. (Ford had also pulled off a record turnaround at Gucci, and the two became close friends during Michele’s tenure as creative director.) That first collection, which was assembled by Michele in just five days, featured geek-chic guys in little sweaters and bow-tie tops. , and shrunken jackets and fur-trimmed jackets that looked like they came from Grandma’s dusty closet. Her gender-fluid vision of hers would reorient the very “androgynous” dress codes in the realms of high fashion and celebrity, encouraging all of fashion, and specifically “masculine” styles, to become more feminine.

gucci catwalk milan fashion week spring summer 2020

At the Spring 2020 show, a classic Gucci look developed by Alessandro Michele: oversized nerdy glasses, wild accessories, gold hardware and vaguely vintage clothing.

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Michele found reliable avatars for this look in stars like Jared Leto and Florence Welch, and then, as her trinket collections grew more extensive and ambitious, she brought in bigger stars to help proselytize: Dakota Johnson, Rihanna, A. $AP Rocky and, above all, Harry Styles. Perhaps no brand has worked in the celebrity arena so successfully, making a bold vision so popular on such a massive scale. Within months of her arrival, her kangaroo-fur-lined Gucci mules had turned legions of shoppers, from the poshest enclaves of Los Angeles to the punkest millennial sections of New York, Paris and London, into fashion nerds. high society who seemed to do anything. room the first class salon of hers. Michele’s clothes, and the wild, maximalist style of her collections, seemed to perfectly encapsulate the 20-something vision of luxury as culture: a postmodern hodgepodge spawned by constant travel and the shiny new Instagram feed that spat out an enticing eruption of aspirational lifestyles. . It was as if Michele saw the selfie as a renaissance portrait, with everything we display symbolizing our position in the world, with brands and hashtags as contemporary heraldry.

As Michele pushed his vision forward at a nearly unstoppable pace, he proved adept at adapting to the new demands of the fashion-fluent, politically engaged millennial consumer. When he showed off a jacket that eagle-eyed observers on Instagram identified as a knockoff by the late Harlem couturier Dapper Dan, Michele gave Dap the funds to restart his atelier. When he was accused of cultural appropriation, invited the then unknown Diet Prada to attend the show and identify her references. When social media users pointed out that a Leigh Bowery-inspired turtleneckOutside the runway context of Michele’s product barrage, looking like blackface, she assembled a team of advisers (including several millennials) to teach Gucci employees about race and diversity.

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And when the pandemic hit, Michele became especially existential. He had just put on a show in Milan that turned the innards of the runway (hair, makeup, models getting dressed) into the show itself, and he also frequently put on shows at resorts around the world. In an Instagram post, he questioned whether the industry was demanding too many shows, creating too many shows, and churning out too many ideas.. Gucci, he proposed, would go seasonless and show only when he felt like it. Eventually, though, like so many other designers, he went back to (sort of) business as usual. In spring 2021, Michele sparked a fervor for luxury-brand teaming when she upended the high-low collaboration model by working with Demna to “hack” Balenciaga’s codes, merging the two brands’ visions into the runway. .

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Who will replace Michele? Well, who’s up to the task? This past June, the brand split runway and merchandising efforts, with Michele overseeing the first and Maria Cristina Lomanto, formerly CEO of Roger Vivier, hired to oversee the second. Maybe Lomanto will take over; perhaps there is an eager young Alessandro acolyte waiting in the wings. In the statement, Gucci said his design studio will carry the vision forward until a new arrangement is announced.

But the end (at least for now) of Michele’s impact on fashion at her shows will create a huge chasm. It remains to be seen if she will start her own label, move to another brand or take another path entirely. But her influence will be felt in celebrity, gender fluid styles and the integration of political positions with fashion for years to come.

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