In a press release published on the 23rd of November 2022, Kering Group announced that Alessandro Michele and fashion powerhouse Gucci’s paths, have parted ways.
The Italian fashion designer declared that his departure resulted from “difference in perspectives”.
For whichever, unknown reason Michele had to leave Gucci, the creative board of the luxury maison is left, once again, without a director.
A flash from April 2004, when Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole left Gucci after the negotiations for “control” broke down.
Tom Ford’s Gucci: classic simplicity
Before Tom departed from Gucci, he joined Gucci, saved it from near bankruptcy then left it with a legacy of US$10 billion brand value according to StyleCaster. From Texas to Milan, the American fashion designer fled the “tacky” styles to introduce his bold, jet-set allure, classic-minimalist, glamourous styles and showcased them under a controversial, provocative, “sex sells” marketing vision.
A flagship example is the 2003 Gucci’s spring campaign that featured the emblematic G from Gucci, shaved into the most intimate parts of Carmen Kass.
It was Maurizio Gucci (heir of Guccio Gucci) and Dawn Mellow (creative director of Gucci at the time) who had hired Tom Ford in 1990 to direct the women’s ready-to-wear collection.
In 1994, Tom replaced Dawn as creative director for all products’ lines, also overseeing the stores’ design – with his brilliant academic background in arts history, fashion and architecture at Parsons in New York, Ford was a polymath.
During Mr. Ford’s reign at Gucci for more than a decade “sales have increased from 230 million dollars in 1994 to almost 3 billion dollars in 2003, making Gucci one of the largest and most profitable luxury brands in the world” according to the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
In 2002, Tom Ford invited Alessandro Michele to join the London office as handbag designer. In 2004, Ford resigned from Gucci without declaring the real reason behind his departure, at least not until 2005 when he told WWD that “it was about control”.
The success Gucci knew during the tenure of the American designer who has dressed Madonna for the Grammys in 1999, Jennifer Lopez at the VH1 Fashion Awards, and Charlize Theron at the Oscar in 2004, has lost momentum until Marco Bizzarri (CEO of Gucci) appoints Alessandro Michele as the creative director in 2015 – Hello, Geeky Gucci.
Michele’s Gucci: genderless geekiness
After the first role of Alessandro at Gucci as handbag designer, he waited 4 years to be named in 2006, senior designer of Gucci’s leather goods.
In 2011, he got promoted to associate creative director – Frida Giannini at the time. Only in 2014, Alessandro got the title of creative director at Gucci without a noun before it, starting at the porcelain brand Richard Ginori – owned by Gucci.
In 2015, he accepts Bizzarri’s week-timed challenge to work as interim creative designer for the January menswear show and revamp Frida’s designs – Hello, intellectual, romantic, genderless, maximalist Gucci.
When Alessandro was finally appointed as the creative director of Gucci, he didn’t only bring along a non-conformist vision to fashion, he also brought along a non-conformist philosophy he’d proudly share after shows and in news conferences.
Alessandro hasn’t only reshaped fashion; he revolutionized the expression of masculinity through fashion, by dressing iconic men in caftans and extravagant accessories. The best embodiment of his vision of masculinity through fashion is Harry Styles – “he’s sexy and he’s handsome” Alessandro points out.
Even his runways were run differently, more like inclusive theatrical events. His “Twinsburg” presentation for spring 2023, showcased flashy-orange tops with the word:
“FUORI!!!” (standing for 𝐅ronte 𝐔nitario 𝐎mosessuale 𝐑ivoluzionario 𝐈taliano, and meaning, literally, “OUT!!!”)
In 2021, Francois-Henri Pinault declared to CNBC that the fourth quarter for Gucci had been “brilliant.” The French conglomerate Kering reported Fashion label Gucci had delivered revenues of 9.7 billion euros ($11.02 billion), up 31% in 2020.
“It was Mr. Michele and Gucci’s chief executive, Marco Bizzarri, who were credited with the success.” Kering’s CEO said.
Both sexy Gucci and freaky Gucci have known great success thanks to great men with great visions that sell, or at least visions that sell until consumers lose the thrill of newness, and the company’s finances start suffering symptoms of brand-fatigue.
With Alessandro’s nothing-new Gucci, sales have started to slow. Alessandro stepped down as the creative director, leaving a vacant position till this day.
“Gucci’s design office will continue to carry the direction of the House forward until a new creative organization will be announced.”
Kering declared in the press release announcing Alessandro’s departure.
Who will be taking the lead of Gucci’s new creative organization?
Several rumours on the internet, namely on Twitter, suggest that it might be an ex. After his deal with Estée Lauder, Tom Ford might be preparing for a return… a flashback, then back to black?