Gucci designer Alessandro Michele to step down after seven years

The designer's game-changing tenure at the fashion house is over

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Alessandro Michele, the creative director behind Gucci's stratospheric rise, is leaving.

According to the industry title Women's Wear Daily, Michele's departure will be formally announced by Gucci's parent company Kering. WWD claims the designer is departing after being asked to "orchestrate a creative revamp to restore the brand's lustre."

Since taking over at the Italian house in 2015, Michele has led a period of huge growth as customers rushed to buy into his geek chic, maximalist aesthetic. Riffing through the 1970s, '80s and '90s, his collections were known for being mash-ups and joyfully mismatched.

During a good partnership with chief executive Marc Bizarri, Michele drove bumper sales between 2015 and 2019, including a five-fold jump in profits. His debut show for the house, for menswear in February 2015, sent male models in pussy bow blouses down the runway, making Gucci the go-to label almost overnight.

However, such growth is difficult to maintain, and recently Gucci's star seems to have been waning, as customers turned their backs on Michele's very autobiographical take on fashion. Sales have been dropping, and Gucci has slipped from being the star player at Kering.

During the pandemic, Michele was one of the designers calling for a reduction in the number of fashion collections per year, citing waste and burnout as a call for change. Michele joined a handful of other designers by announcing last year that the number of annual shows would be slashed to only two from five, saying that "clothes should have a longer life" and that his future collections would be "seasonless".

After a few seasons showing off-season, however, Michele was forced into a humiliating climb down, as Gucci rejoined the main fashion schedule.

On Wednesday, WWD quoted one source as saying Michele had been asked "to initiate a strong design shift" to light a fire under the brand, and that the designer did not meet the request. The WWD report said that Kering's chairman and chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault was looking at a change of pace for the brand.

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Updated: November 24, 2022, 1:51 PM
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