Valentino names ex-Gucci designer Alessandro Michele as creative chief


A file picture shows Alessandro Michele at the end of Gucci's Autumn/Winter 2020. Photo: AP

Italian fashion house Valentino has named Gucci’s former star designer Alessandro Michele as its new creative director.

Michele, who oversaw Gucci’s creations for eight years until November 2022, is replacing Pierpaolo Piccioli, whose departure was announced last week.

He will start his new role on April 2 and will be based in Rome, the Milan-based company said in a statement Thursday (March 28).

The 51-year-old’s appointment at Valentino comes as something of a surprise.

Gucci owner Kering SA parted ways with the designer after sales of the label didn’t keep up with the performance of some of its biggest rivals such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

Last year, Qatar’s Mayhoola sold a 30% stake in Valentino to Kering, with an option for the French company to buy the rest by 2028.

Read more: Valentino cancels June fashion shows amid rumours of new creative director

Kering chief executive officer Francois-Henri Pinault welcomed Michele’s arrival.

"I am certain that with his creativity, culture and versatile talent, he will be able to interpret masterfully the unique heritage of this magnificent house and make it flourish,” Pinault said in a statement.

The links between Valentino and Gucci aren’t new. Last year, Kering named former Valentino fashion director Sabato De Sarno as its new designer.

Jacopo Venturini, the CEO of Valentino, used to be head of merchandising at Gucci during Michele’s time there.

Michele’s fashions at Gucci became recognisable for their flamboyant and bohemian-chic designs.

Under his direction, Gucci also collaborated with other brands, notably Adidas AG and North Face Inc, as well as Balenciaga, another Kering brand.

Valentino, whose red carpet designs have been worn recently by stars including Zendaya and Florence Pugh, was founded in Italy in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti.

In 1968, Jackie Kennedy famously wore an ivory lace Valentino dress when she married Aristotle Onassis.

Read more: Gucci’s China shock reverberates across the luxury fashion landscape

Valentino was acquired by Mayhoola more than a decade ago.

Piccioli’s recent Valentino collections have created buzz for their elegance and single-coloured focus. Two years ago, the label unveiled an autumn and winter collection where all pieces were bright pink.

During this month’s Paris Fashion Week show, Piccioli unveiled more than 60 looks with models donning only black pieces, with variations between embroidered and sheer lace dresses.

The brand reported revenue of €1.4bil (approximately RM7.15bil) in 2022 and €350mil (RM1.8bil) in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation. – Bloomberg

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