Alessandro Michele Is Named Valentino Creative Director

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PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

The designer delivered fashion fans a wild seven years as creative director at Gucci. Now, he’s taking his vision to Valentino.

This article was originally published on November 23, 2022, and has been updated.

Update: More than a year after leaving Gucci, Alessandro Michele was named the new creative director of Valentino on March 28. This appointment comes just days following the announcement that Pierpaolo Piccioli would be stepping down from the role after 25 years. Michele’s first day at the Italian couture house is April 2, 2024, according to Vogue Business. His debut collection will be unveiled for Spring 2025, which is reportedly set to show during Paris Fashion Week this upcoming September.

In a statement posted to Instagram, Michele hinted at his vision for the brand. “My first thought goes to this story: to the richness of its cultural and symbolic heritage, to the sense of wonder it constantly generates, to the very precious identity given with their wildest love by founding fathers, Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti,” he wrote in part. How will his memorable maximalist flair translate to the heritage house? Equipped with historical references and brand reverence, Alessandro Michele is sure to turn heads at the helm. 

FASHION‘s original article about Michele’s exit from Gucci appears below. 

Some are shocked. Others aren’t. Either way, the news that Alessandro Michele is leaving Gucci is rocking the fashion world. And in a week that also saw Raf Simons shutting his label, that world had already been knocked off its axis.

Michele arrived at Gucci in 2015 with a bang, taking over from Frida Giannini who had carried Tom Ford’s sexy/suit-y legacy forward when he left the brand in the mid-oughts. But that formula was stale and predictable and it was time for something new. I attended Michele’s first fashion show for Gucci in Milan — one that divided opinions as sharply as one of the knife pleats on the runway. With men and women both dressed in floral suits and pussy bow blouses, many left thinking, “what was that?” Others loved the gender blending. It was a fresh, young attitude that would eventually seep into the mainstream.

A visit to the Gucci showroom to re-see that first collection was like witnessing an explosion of creativity splattered all over walls. There were jarring mixes of colours and patterns, geeky glasses, fur-trimmed grandma coats and beaded birds and bees that seemed randomly placed. There was also so much that had not made it to the runway. It was an excess of ideas and designs made even more remarkable because Michele had kept it all bottled up inside in the years he worked under Giannini.  It was clear that old school sexy had been replaced with something that seemed much smarter — unapologetic eccentricity. Michele’s fur-lined slides, which became a must-have as soon as his first collection hit the stores, were the first clue that there was an appetite for his brand of quirk. And that’s exactly what Alessandro Michele delivered through his seven years at the helm of Gucci.

The reason many are not surprised by Michele’s exit is that despite high-profile fans like Harry Styles and the buzz Michele was so brilliant at creating like with his Spring 2023 show featuring 68 pairs of identical twins, Gucci clothes and accessories had become too predictable. Designers, like artists, sometimes reach creative limits and Gucci’s parent company Kering is a public one that needs growth to make shareholders happy. But the true question is: did Michele leave to take a mental break or to join another brand (Burberry could sure use him)? Only time will tell but we’d be very surprised if another big name doesn’t snatch him up soon.

Until then, we’ve rounded up Alessandro Michele’s top 10 most memorable moments from Gucci, from the opening look of his debut to Lady Gaga’s epic purple moment at the premiere of House of Gucci.

Alessandro Michele and Jared Leto at the 2022 Met Gala

With files from Natalie Michie

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