In a move that surprised the entire fashion industry, Gucci announced that Alessandro Michele will be stepping down as the luxury brand’s creative director effective immediately. The 49-year-old had been instrumental in leading the band through changing times, taking it from the brink of irrelevancy to the heights of eccentric glamour.
Alessandro Michele is leaving Gucci, the global luxury fashion giant he helmed as creative director since 21 January 2015. Kering, the French group which owns Gucci, announced Michele’s departure from the brand late on 23 November 2022.
What Kering, Gucci and Michele said about the decision
In a statement, Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault said, “I am grateful to Alessandro for bringing so much of himself in this adventure. His passion, his imagination, his ingenuity and his culture put Gucci center stage, where its place is.”
Pinault added that Michele’s seven-year tenure was “an outstanding moment” in Gucci’s history.
Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci said, “I would like to thank him for his 20 years of commitment to Gucci and for his vision, devotion, and unconditional love for this unique House during his tenure as Creative Director.”
On his part, Michele said, “There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have. Today an extraordinary journey ends for me, lasting more than twenty years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion.”
Who is succeeding Alessandro Michele at Gucci?
The news of Gucci and Michele parting ways was first reported by Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
Meanwhile, citing an unnamed source, Reuters reports that there were tensions between Michele and Kering’s top management.
Kering has not named a successor to Michele but the report says that Gucci will drop six collections as part of its full fashion calendar in 2023.
In its statement, Kering noted that Gucci will “carry the direction of the House forward until a new creative organization” is set up.
Gucci rose under Michele’s creative direction
Michele is a former accessories designer who took Gucci to new heights after becoming its creative director.
He turned the brand towards more visually striking and gender-fluid styles, and brought increased engagement with celebrities.
Icons such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Jodie Turner-Smith, Dakota Johnson and Harry Styles were among the many who were drawn to Gucci during Michele’s tenure. Styles became a Gucci ambassador in 2017 and has since released his own collection, Ha Ha Ha, in collaboration with the brand.
Among the latest celebrities to come on board with Gucci is Ryan Gosling, who became the new face of the brand’s Valigeria travel campaign in October 2022.
Michele’s personal style also made him an instantly recognisable figure in the world of fashion.
On the business front, Michele, along with Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, pushed Gucci into a very high period of growth during his time.
The Guardian reports that Gucci revenue almost tripled from EUR 3.9 billion (USD 4.07 billion) in 2015 to EUR 9.7 billion (USD 10.12) in 2021. Gucci also topped the prestigious The Lyst Index of the world’s hottest brands in Q2 and Q3 of 2022.
But the report also notes that growth has been declining since 2017.
According to Reuters, Gucci has fallen behind its peers in recent quarters. Reports suggest that the pandemic and brand fatigue in key Asian markets such as China is behind the slump.
(Main image: Andreas SOLARO/AFP; Featured image: Alessandro Michele/@alessandro_michele/Instagram)