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23 Nov

Alessandro Michele Is Exiting Gucci, Sources Say

MILAN — Could a significant change be happening at Gucci?

Well-placed sources here say that creative director Alessandro Michele is exiting the brand.

A press release is anticipated as early as Wednesday. Gucci didn’t reply to repeated requests for comment late Tuesday Milan time.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told WWD that Michele “was asked to initiate a powerful design shift” to light a hearth under the brand, however the designer didn’t meet the request. One other source said François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci’s parent Kering, is a change of pace for the group’s star brand.

This may not be the primary time Pinault has shaken up certainly one of Kering’s key brands. Last November, in a surprise move, Pinault ousted Daniel Lee from Bottega Veneta despite the designer’s strong performance on the brand and far critical success.

Lee, who’s now creative director at Burberry, was succeeded at Bottega by Matthieu Blazy, who had been within the brand’s studio. Blazy in two seasons has rapidly put his mark on the brand, taking it back to its artisanal roots.

Pinault might be trying to do the identical at Gucci, although Michele’s most up-to-date show for the brand in September was certainly one of the standouts of the spring 2023 season. The designer sent out a stream of models in each his signature androgynous looks in addition to some that were more restrained with an injection of more classic tailoring.

The twist got here when a partition lifted to point out that half the audience was watching the very same show — the models within the show were all an identical twins, in a private reflection of Michele about identity. He revealed after the show that his mother was a twin and so he all the time felt he had two moms.

Michele was officially appointed to the highest creative role in January 2015, two days after he first took a bow at the tip of Gucci’s men’s fall 2015 show.

With that seminal show he reinvented Gucci with a totally latest, quirky and androgynous aesthetic that toppled his predecessor Frida Giannini’s sophisticated jet-set lifestyle image.

Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri chosen Michele to succeed Giannini, who had exited every week earlier, and has long been a powerful supporter of the designer. Nevertheless, one source believes “the honeymoon with Bizzarri is over, and the connection shouldn’t be as strong as before.”

It might be telling that Michele didn’t fly to Seoul for Gucci’s repeat Cosmogonie show, scheduled for Nov. 1, which was canceled following the tragic events within the South Korean city, where greater than 150 people were killed and dozens were injured after being crushed in a big crowd within the Itaewon nightlife district while celebrating Halloween. 

If confirmed, the news comes ahead of Gucci’s return to Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week in January.

Michele’s gender-fluid and romantic spirit has influenced a slew of other designers, and his tenure at Gucci helped the brand cater to a younger and more diverse customer, in addition to boost its business. After his appointment, Gucci posted growth exceeding 35 percent for five consecutive quarters by the primary quarter of 2018, prompting Bizzarri to set a ten billion euro revenue goal for the brand in June that 12 months.

Nevertheless, Kering last month reported that its money cow Gucci continued to underperform versus the group’s other brands, although organic sales picked up pace within the third quarter. Revenues on the Italian label totaled 2.6 billion euros, up 9 percent on a like-for-like basis, following a 4 percent rise within the second quarter.

That was barely below a consensus of analysts’ estimates, which called for a ten percent increase in comparable sales on the maker of Dionysus handbags and horsebit loafers. By comparison, organic sales at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s key fashion and leather goods division rose 22 percent year-over-year within the third quarter.

Bizzarri took on his role at Gucci on Jan. 1, 2015, succeeding Patrizio di Marco. He told WWD on the time that elevating Michele to the post of creative director was “looking from outside, not probably the most obvious alternative,” but that he was “exactly the fitting person” for that position, tasked with halting Gucci’s then-performance declines.

Michele joined the Gucci design studio in 2002 following a stint as senior accessories designer at Fendi. He was appointed “associate” to Giannini in 2011, and in 2014 took on the extra responsibility of creative director of Richard Ginori, the porcelain brand acquired by Gucci in 2013.

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