Style authors: the creative director's burden for a brand
One of the latest was Alessandro Michele's farewell to Gucci, which sparked months of debate and commentary. Because the creative director (especially one as 'thick' as Alessandro Michele) is the soul of a brand; the figure who embodies its style and vision, capable of bringing it closer to its target audience or attracting new ones. And it happens, especially when business tries to interfere too much with the creative spirit, that irremediable rifts are created. Just think of Tom Ford in 2004 with Gucci itself: almost two decades later it is still being talked about.
Creativity and talent are not easily replaced, especially when they have to act as interpreters and spokesmen for names-icons in the fashion world. And style changes are not always well accepted by the public. At Gucci itself, the first collection after the handover to Sabato De Sarno, whose debut is expected in September 2023, is eagerly awaited. Not least because transitional phases historically do not do sales well: see also Ferragamo and Burberry, which recently changed designers.
In fact, the Florence-born fashion house is in the midst of a rebranding: the founder's name has disappeared from the logo, changing to Ferragamo, while creative direction has moved from the hands of Paul Andrew to Maximilian Davis. Since last September, Daniel Lee has instead replaced Riccardo Tisci as Burberry's creative director, eliciting lukewarm reactions on his first outing. Recall also the long-considered transition from John Galliano (who left in 2011) to Raf Simons at the helm of Dior, interspersed with a year of transition with assistant designer Bill Gaytten.
Raf Simons himself last November announced the closure of his own eponymous brand. Perhaps, some speculated, to devote himself exclusively to Prada, currently codirected with Miuccia Prada. And then there is Louis Vuitton, which needed time to get over the unexpected farewell of Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November 2021 at just 41 years old, leaving an unbridgeable gap in the creative landscape. His legacy will surprisingly pass into the hands of Pharell Williams, LV's new menswear creative director.