Fashion, hun, are you okay? You’re scaring us. When a luxury brand changes its creative director, it’s a big deal, to put it lightly. But lately it seems that we hear of big names dropping their long standing creative director every other day. There have been countless long-winded Instagram posts of tearful goodbyes and excitement for the next chapter to come from some of the top designers in the game.
Whenever a house announces the departure or replacement of its current creative director, the rumours start flying around. Were they fired? Was it due to a creative dispute? Were their designs not selling? The true reasons are never really exposed. Instead a press release is sent out explaining that the designer and the house came to a friendly agreement to cut ties between one another, which only makes us wonder even more what happened behind closed doors. And with all the recent changes and new appointments within luxury houses, we can only ask ourselves what is actually going on with fashion right now?
SO, IS FASHION FALLING APART?
In shocking news that was brought to us in November of last year, Alessandro Michele announced his departure as creative director at Gucci, a position he had held for 7 years. Since 2015, Gucci and Michele had become a symbiotic entity, making it hard for us to imagine a Gucci without Michele’s maximalist, dream-like aesthetic.
The Italian designer reinvented the brand, taking its heritage and modernising it with his gender-fluid approach which spoke to a younger generation of Gucci fans. Not only did Michele create some of Gucci’s most iconic pieces – think of the fur-lined loafers or the collaborations with names like Palace – he also increased its sales from a revenue of €3.9 billion in 2015 to €9.7 billion in 2021. To say Michele’s directorship ending gave us whiplash is an understatement.
Another brand which has become so attached to its longstanding leader the two have become synonymous, but is now parting ways with them is Moschino with Jeremy Scott. Bringing in consumer culture and merging typically considered ‘low-end’ aesthetics into a luxury brand into a thoughtful take on our current society’s ways of operating, Scott’s decade at Moschino will go down in history as one of the most recognizable and playful eras in fashion.
But it’s not just creative directors that have been caught in this storm. Just a few days after a video of Law Roach realising he had been placed in second row behind his celebrity client Zendaya at a Louis Vuitton show went viral on TikTok, the stylist has announced his retirement. Earlier this month, Roach took to his Instagram to share the news, with a caption that left us wondering what truly happened for him to bite the bullet, which he phrased as “The politics, the lies and false narratives finally got me”.
@michelleyeohrocks Replying to @ownlyfhanz #lawroach #zendaya ♬ award season – Maya
With all of these top fashion figures quitting their roles, it seems as though fashion is undergoing a seismic change with a future that remains unclear. One brand that has created a path for its upcoming collections that still leaves us questioning the reasons behind its particular decision is Louis Vuitton with its recent appointment of Pharrell as its new artistic director, taking over the coveted spot held by Virgil Abloh before his passing. While SS24 will reveal its visual direction, many are still confused on the brand’s overall direction and thought process behind bringing in someone who isn’t necessarily a designer first.
The reason why many disapproved of Pharell at Louis Vuitton is because during the two years after Abloh’s death, the French heritage brand was rumoured to be in talks with more than just a few emerging designers. Rumours obviously started flying around about who would fill the empty position, with everyone putting in their two cents in, wishing for names like Martine Rose, Telfar Clemens or Grace Wales Bonner. As we know now, none of them were picked for the role.
martine rose is only one of thousands of talented designers who has been dragged along by the conglomerate luxury houses for months / years to then be dropped for a bigger name-— brenda (@brendahashtag) February 15, 2023
OR MAYBE NOT…?
According to TikTok ‘therapists’ – no official licences can be presented here but it is good advice nonetheless – things falling apart is just another way of saying things are falling into place. Established notions and existing frameworks must be broken down to create space for new possibilities and narratives. While waving goodbye to fashion’s top dogs may be upsetting, we must understand that they are still here.
While Scott, Michele and Roach may be out of work for now, it’s only temporary. In a recent Tweet, Roach stated “So y’all really think I’m breaking up with Z….. we are forever!”, giving us hope that this relationship we’ve been obsessed with is not quite over yet. In his announcement, Scott already hinted at future work by saying “As I close this chapter I am filled with excitement & anticipation and can’t wait to share with you all what I have in store for you next !” Many have turned to an interview by Karl Lagerfeld in which he stated Jeremy Scott as the only option to take over his role at Chanel. Whatever Scott has up his sleeve, it’s not nothing, that’s for sure.
So y’all really think I’m breaking up with Z….. we are forever!— LAW ROACH (@LUXURYLAW) March 15, 2023
As for Michele, the possibilities are endless. While there may not be a clear path, we’re certain this is not the end of the road in the designer’s career, but instead just a change of roads in the journey. As we all love to do, many have been speculating which house Michele could end up at, with strong contenders being Givenchy or Chanel. The most interesting speculation though, is Moschino. Now that the brand has an open position, Michele’s grand imagination that couldn’t be contained at Gucci might be a perfect fit for Moschino, leading the brand towards a more sophisticated maximalist aesthetic. While this is all speculation, it will be interesting to see which brand snatches up the Italian designer first.
As far as the future of emerging designers, it may seem bleak right after none of them were picked for Louis Vuitton and the recent rumours of GmbH designers Serhat Işik and Benjamin A. Huseby are leaving Trussardi only two years after joining, though that doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all for them. Continuing on with their own brands, up and coming designers are doing just that: coming up. And if Ludovic de Saint Sernin managed to secure his place at Ann Demeulemeester and Maximilian Davis is excelling at Ferragamo, that means there’s still hope, right?
We need to remember this is how the industry works: out with the old and in with the new. Fashion is constantly looking to shake things up, give their house a refresh, sometimes at the cost of our favourite figures moving onto different avenues. We wouldn’t have had Michele at Gucci if Tom Ford never left just as we never would have had the Raf Simons Dior era if the brand never parted ways with John Galliano. While it’s always bittersweet accepting the end of an era, we can find comfort in knowing that a new era is about to begin. And if that’s a flop, there will always be the archives for us to relish in.
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