Gucci's New Designer Is The One Nobody Saw Coming

Photo: Courtesy of Gucci.
Watching Gucci's menswear show in Milan a few days ago, there was no indication that it was all put together (the event and the clothes) in as few as five days, as Style.com reported. But, it was — with Alessandro Michele at the helm. Today, Michele was named Gucci's new creative director. 

Michele has been a faithful member of the Gucci team since Tom Ford brought him aboard in 2002; most recently, he served as the associate to creative director Frida Giannini, who recently resigned. Still, promoting 42-year-old Michele from within was an unexpected move for the brand. A more obvious choice for creative director would have been someone guaranteed to make headlines: Riccardo Tisci, Joseph Altuzarra, or Tom Ford, for example. These are personalities who are both industry mainstays and recognized beyond the fashion sphere.   

As recently as last month, WWD was debating whether Tisci would leave his nearly 10-year post at Givenchy for Gucci — thus hopping from luxury conglomerate LVMH to its main competitor, Kering. Altuzarra, whose namesake collection received an investment from Kering in the first half of 2014, was also eyed for a takeover, which would have him following in Marc Jacobs' and Alexander Wang’s footsteps as a New York designer poached to lead a European line. 

As the rumor mill continued to crank, '90s Gucci enthusiasts might have delighted in suspicions that Ford would be returning as creative director, reviving the position he held between 1994 and 2004. Other suspected successors whose names were thrown into the Gucci hat included Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier, Pucci’s Peter Dundas, and accessories designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, WWD reported in December. Fashionista guessed that Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane may be a contender. The one designer whose name was hardly mentioned? Alessandro Michele.

We won't deny it: Celebrity-designer games of musical chairs make for great publicity, and can really bring new excitement to an older brand. In this case, though, one potential hire's skills and loyalty soared over the chatter. “Alessandro’s talent and his knowledge of the company and the design teams in place will for sure allow him to move quickly and seamlessly in implementing his new creative direction for the collections and the brand,” said Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s new CEO, who replaced Patrizio de Marco (former CEO and Giannini’s husband). In other words, picking an insider and expert on all things Gucci turned out to be the most indisputable choice of all. Rumors be damned.
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