After almost eight years, Alessandro Michele has resigned as Gucci’s creative director. During that time, he helped the Italian fashion house turn around its fortunes.
The luxury house’s parent company, Kering, made the announcement and noted that the 49-year-old designer played a crucial part in making the brand what it is.
In a statement, François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the company, added: “The road that Gucci and Alessandro walked together over the past years is unique and will remain as an outstanding moment in the history of the House… His passion, his imagination, his ingenuity and his culture put Gucci centre stage, where its place is.”
With no prior experience running a large brand and having joined Gucci as a handbag designer, Michele’s selection to the position of CEO in 2015 came as a surprise. But as the brand’s appeal seemed to be waning, he oversaw a significant reworking of its image, abandoning the overtly seductive style established by his predecessor Tom Ford in favour of a more whimsical style known as “geek chic.”
Then, Michele ushered in a period of vibrant, maximalist designs by reinterpreting Renaissance art through clothing and holding grandiose runway performances in iconic locations. He embraced the sumptuous history of a company that had just celebrated its 100th anniversary, even giving the Greek wine god Dionysus the name of one of his most well-known designs, the Dionysus handbag.
While shrewd partnerships with companies like Adidas and The North Face helped the brand connect to a wider audience, his genderfluid collections also blurred the boundaries between the menswear and womenswear lines of the company.
As one of Time magazine’s top 100 thinkers in 2017, Michele courted celebrities and chose people like Harry Styles and Billie Eilish to represent her brand. He and actor Jared Leto appeared together on the red carpet at the illustrious Met Gala in May of this year wearing complementary Gucci suits.
When Michele was in charge, sales soared. Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and Saint Laurent are just a few of the well-known brands that are owned by Kering, but Gucci reportedly brought in 9.7 billion euros ($10.1 billion) for the corporation last year, outpacing them all.
But there were some issues with Michele’s administration. He led women down a Milan runway in a white straightjacket in 2019. One of the models, Ayesha Tan Jones, protested by holding up a placard that said, “Mental health is not fashion.” The same year, a $790 turban sparked charges of cultural appropriation, and the label was obliged to issue an apology for selling a pullover that had been condemned for looking like blackface.