Gucci Creative Director confirmed: Alessandro Michele is Frida Giannini's replacement
Following months of speculation
42-year-old Alessandro Michele may be relatively unknown to the general public, but he comes with an impressive fashion design C.V – including a position at Fendi, over a decade behind-the-scenes at Gucci, and a creative directorship at Richard Ginori, the Gucci-owned porcelain brand.
Michele rose to the challenge of steering the Gucci ship ahead of his official appointment as its new creative director today, when the luxury Italian fashion house announced that Michele and team were completely re-doing the Gucci menswear Autumn/Winter 15 collection and show, last minute. The work included re-designing everything in the collection down to the shoes, re-casting the models and changing the set and format of the showcase in Milan. Michele excelled, and many were positive about his efforts:
"[Michele is] feeling excited, free and going for it." A source said at the time.
Speaking of the appointment, Giannini's partner Patrizio di Marco's replacement – the new Gucci president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri said: “Looking from outside, it’s not the most obvious choice.” During a phone conversation with WWD the 52-year-old added: “Alessandro is not a big name. He is under the radar, he is known in the company as being the most talented person and is very much respected by the team. He knows Gucci inside and out.”
Bizzarri said that Michele is “exactly the right person” for Gucci’s creative helm, “When he started discussing Gucci, his vision, his talent and the images associated with the way he looked at Gucci were exactly in [keeping with] the way we wanted to move Gucci forward,” Bizzarri continued.
The new Gucci CEO since January 1 2015 also briefly discussed the rumours and names that have been flying around the industry as Giannini's potential replacement. In particular – Givenchy's Ricardo Tisci: “I never contacted Riccardo Tisci once; it was never a discussion,” he said. “Alessandro is definitely the choice; he is not the temporary choice. Alessandro is by far my personal choice, and that of François-Henri Pinault. We share the same vision.”
Bizzarri voiced “great admiration and respect” for the accomplishments of Giannini and di Marco. At the beginning, Gucci's numbers grew under Giannini's creative direction. However, the ex-Gucci creative director often veered on the side of wearable, almost retreating from a fashion influence. Gucci stood by Giannini, but undoubtedly – the Gucci mood changed. Speaking of his new vision for the Italian fashion house under Michele, Bizzari said: "Gucci should become again a brand that is in the mind of opinion leaders, of fashion people. They should [feel] the need to go into the Gucci shop,” adding: “What do you feel about [the brand]? What is your perception? Is it/this relevant or not relevant? Our business it is not just about the results. It’s about what you feel about [the brand] and the perspective.”
"I think Gucci lost a little bit of relevance in the past one or two years, so I think that’s the moment to change,” Bizzarri said. “Both Patrizio and Frida brought amazing things to Gucci. They created a huge company from a business standpoint. [Now] from a creative standpoint, it’s time to give a little bit of push in terms of modernity to make Gucci relevant again in the fashion world.”
Frida Giannini handed in her notice at Gucci at the end of last year following a decade with the Italian fashion house. She was due to leave the house following its menswear presentation earlier this week and its Autumn/Winter 15 womenswear collection later next month. However, in another twist: Giannini made an early exit ahead of her planned swan song. Months of speculation has circled Giannini's shock departure, with Tom Ford, Riccardo Tisci, Christopher Kane, Pucci's Peter Dundas and Joseph Altuzarra all rumoured to be taking the Gucci reins at some point.
Today the rumours can officially cease: As Alessandro Michele is confirmed as the new creative director for Gucci – and a new chapter for the luxury Italian fashion house officially begins...