Alessandro Michele Exits Gucci

Alessandro Michele is leaving Gucci. After seven years as creative director of the Italian house, Michele confirmed his departure through a statement posted on his personal Instagram account.

“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 20 years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion,” writes Michele.

The designer joined the house under Tom Ford in 2002, rising through the ranks to become head of accessories under Frida Giannini. When Giannini left the brand in January 2015, Michele – in five days – completely redesigned the menswear collection Gucci was due to present during Milan Fashion Week, ushering in a gender nonconformity that would come to guide his design lexicon for the brand. Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri would appoint Michele as creative director two days following the show.

Michele not only revitalised Gucci; his eccentric, maximalist vision – which hopped between different time periods and subverted traditional codes of both mens- and womenswear – has helped shape the state of luxury fashion as we know it.

His tenure will be remembered for a myriad of triumphs. First for his vintage-inspired, magpie aesthetic, which catapulted Gucci to become the world’s most popular brand. In 2021, despite a slow-down in sales, Michele’s Gucci brought in nearly 10 billion euros in revenue.

His vision for Gucci was the most inclusive in the brand’s history, and his most memorable shows saw models carrying severed heads, trapped in revolving glass boxes and have taken the fashion pack across the globe – including Hollywood Boulevard and Castel del Monte. His final collection for the house, featuring 68 sets of identical twins, was inspired by his mother Eralda and her sister Giuliana.

Michele’s romantic tailoring, lavish evening gowns, and kink-infused glamour enticed a cohort of celebrities who would align themselves with the brand, including the likes of Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Serena Williams and Jared Leto (the latter dressed as Michele’s doppelganger to this year’s Met Gala). To Michele, the playfully nicknamed Gucci Gang were more than just famous faces to dress up on the red carpet. They were collaborators. Like Harry Styles, whose friendship with Michele inspired Gucci’s Ha Ha Ha capsule collection released in June.

What would Michele’s Gucci be without its all-star collaborations? Whether it was hacking fellow Kering giant Balenciaga, uniting with Adidas and Palace, or bringing legendary bootlegger Dapper Dan into his Gucci universe, Michele’s link-ups ricocheted on a global scale. Michele also used his influence to support the next generation of design talent, setting up e-commerce platform Gucci Vault to sell collections from the likes of Bianca Saunders, Stefan Cooke and Ahluwalia.

“I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Alessandro at the end of 2014, since then we have had the pleasure to work closely together as Gucci has charted its successful path over these last eight years,” writes Bizzarri. “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.”

Gucci’s design team will continue to make collections until Michele’s replacement is appointed, with the brand scheduled to debut a standalone menswear AW23 collection in Milan this coming January. Michele’s departure follows a series of recent, major fashion shake-ups, including Daniel Lee’s appointment at Burberry and the announcement that Raf Simons is shuttering his namesake label after 27 years in business.

“During this long period Gucci has been my home, my adopted family,” writes Michele. “To this extended family, to all the individuals who have looked after and supported it, I send my most sincere thanks, my biggest and most heartfelt embrace. Together with them I have wished, dreamed, imagined. Without them, none of what I have built would have been possible.” What a reign it was.

Photography courtesy of Gucci.

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