After a day of rumors and speculation, the Kering Group confirmed on November 23 in the evening the news that the fashion site Women’s Wear Daily had announced early in the morning: Alessandro Michele is leaving the artistic direction of Gucci. The Italian had entered the company in 2002, after earning his stripes as an accessories designer at Fendi. During his twenty years at Gucci, the Roman held several positions including that of director of leather goods creation, then became the right arm of the artistic director then in place, Frida Giannini, before winning the supreme title in January 2015. .
“Today ends for me an extraordinary journey that 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 cared for and supported her (…)I address my most sincere wishes: may you continue to nourish yourself with your dreams, delicate and impalpable matter which makes life worth living”, declared Alessandro Michele in the lyrical style that characterizes him, through the official press release announcing his departure.
“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.” said François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of the Kering group.
Psychedelic clashes and flashy accessories
A graduate of the Academy of Costume and Fashion in Rome, Alessandro Michele, now 49, set out to redefine the style of the house. When he started, Gucci was rather synonymous with “sexy” and the wardrobe, articulated around mini-dresses, very tight pants or high stilettos. Under the Michele era, the label was tinged with romanticism and grandiloquent baroque, multiplying bohemian references seventies, clashes of prints – floral, psychedelic… –, daring to use bright colours.
Listening to his time, Michele played a lot on the mixture of genres, adorning his male models with jewelry or parading them dressed in dresses. His creative vision was recognized less than a year after taking office by the British Fashion Council, which presented him with the 2015 International Designer Award at the Fashion Awards of the same year. In 2016, the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave her the International Award.
Throughout her style direction of Gucci, Michele revisited glamor and the golden age of Hollywood with large evening dresses punctuated with sequins, long boas tied around the shoulders and a host of accessories always more flashy. We will also remember its provocative and subversive side, as during the fall-winter 2018 show where models strolled on the catwalk with an exact replica of their head wedged under their arm. The Spring/Summer 2023 show, presented in Milan in September, caused a stir, with the models appearing with their identically dressed identical twins during the finale.
During his more than seven years at the head of Gucci’s style, the Roman has multiplied unexpected stylistic collaborations, such as with the American brand The North Face in 2021, the sports equipment manufacturer Adidas in June 2022, or with the English pop star Harry Styles, with the “Gucci Ha Ha Ha” collection (in store since early November). We will also note a collaboration between the houses of Gucci and Balenciaga (both Kering properties) unveiled during the Gucci 100th anniversary parade in April 2021.
After spectacular growth during Michele’s first four years at the helm of style, Gucci, Kering’s powerhouse brand, has seen its growth slow. The financial results below the group’s expectations could explain the change in artistic direction. Kering is also used to unexpected changes in management: in November 2021, the group abruptly separated from Englishman Daniel Lee, then at Bottega Veneta.
Alessandro Michele has demonstrated an unusual longevity in a sector that constantly calls for novelty. Nothing has yet filtered as to the reasons for his departure, nor concerning the name of his potential successor.
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