Who’s in and who’s out: The latest movements among the big fashion houses


Virginie Viard's recent exit from Chanel has sparked talks about a fresh round of other departures in other brands. Photo: AFP

The recent announcement that Virginie Viard is leaving her creative director post at Chanel marks the continuing momentum of this year’s fashion musical chairs.

When one design head exits a brand, it often leads to a cascade of other movements.

This is seen when Pierpaolo Piccioli left Valentino in March, which then saw Alessandro Michele (formerly of Gucci) replacing him a week later.

Last year, there was a big change among the top rosters for fashion houses like Chloe, Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen.

It offered these brands a fresh vibe and, in most cases, a total change of aesthetic.

The end of an era

Viard has worked with Chanel for over three decades. She was often called the “right hand” of the late designer Karl Lagerfeld, working closely with him on all collections Chanel produces.

When Lagerfeld died in 2019, Viard took over his job. Her first solo collection for Chanel was for the Cruise 2020 season.

Fittingly, Viard’s last collection is also for the Cruise season (see cover story). She presented the designs in France last month. It will hit stores towards the end of the year.

“The sun, architecture, music and dance: Marseille also has a very strong sense of freedom,” Viard’s statement reads.

“I was inspired by the codes of lifestyle, of everyday life and by all the things that invite movement. The sea and the wind made me want to play with wetsuits.”

Read more: Chanel's creative director Virginie Viard to exit brand, according to report

Red carpet maestro

Pierpaolo Piccioli built his legacy at Valentino, and he is a known favourite among celebrities. Photo: Instagram/Pierpaolo PiccioliPierpaolo Piccioli built his legacy at Valentino, and he is a known favourite among celebrities. Photo: Instagram/Pierpaolo Piccioli

Piccioli’s departure from Valentino came as a surprise to many in the industry. He spent over two decades with the Italian fashion house, and built his name as a celebrity favourite.

His designs for the red carpet made headlines and have been worn by big names such as Zendaya, Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga, Florence Pugh, Glenn Close, Viola Davis and lots more.

The Spring/Summer 2024 collection was Piccioli’s last collection for Valentino.

“Thank you, Pierpaolo, above all for your friendship, your respect and your support,” the brand’s founder, Valentino Garavani, wrote on Instagram when he announced his retirement back in 2007.

Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri (currently head of Dior womenswear) were appointed to fill the role of co-creative directors the following year, after Garavani retired.

King of maximalist fashion

Alessandro Michele's bigger-than-life aesthetic totally changed Gucci when he led the top job at the fashion house. Photo: Instagram/Alessandro MicheleAlessandro Michele's bigger-than-life aesthetic totally changed Gucci when he led the top job at the fashion house. Photo: Instagram/Alessandro Michele

Michele’s entry into Gucci affected a total change of direction for the fashion house.

When he was appointed as creative director in 2015, he started unveiling extravagant designs – this was as far removed from the refined aesthetic that the brand adhered to before that.

Michele’s vibe would probably be best described as “more is more”.

His tenure of seven years there saw one maximalist outfit after another parading the runways. The last collection he presented for Gucci was for Spring/Summer 2023 (Sabato De Sarno took over as creative director).

Thus, him taking over Piccioli’s spot at Valentino is seen a major development. It is expected that he will bring about major changes to the brand – as he did in his last placement.

Read more: Valentino names ex-Gucci designer Alessandro Michele as creative chief

That streetwear swagger

Matthew Williams is known for a darker, more edgy vibe when it comes to his designs. Photo: Instagram/Matthew WilliamsMatthew Williams is known for a darker, more edgy vibe when it comes to his designs. Photo: Instagram/Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams’ departure from Givenchy was a lot more quiet compared to the exits of Piccioli and Michele.

While he only served as creative director between 2020 and 2023, he is still a known name in the fashion circles. The designer is recognised for his streetwear designs, having actively collaborated with numerous brands in the past.

At Givenchy, he gave the brand a more edgy vibe with creative play on hard and soft aesthetics. His last collections are for the yet to be released Pre-Fall 2024 season.

Williams’ post has not been filled, which is now leading to speculation that designers like Piccioli could be tapped for the job.

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fashion , Chanel , Valentino , Gucci , Givenchy

   

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