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Alessandro Michele is Valentino’s New Creative Director

— Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Alessandro Michele has found a new garden to play in. The 51-year-old Italian designer has been appointed Valentino’s new creative director following Pierpaolo Piccioli’s surprising exit from the house last Fridy. Michele emerged as a fashion star in 2015 when he was plucked from behind-the-scenes obscurity and named Gucci’s creative director. He quickly ushered in an unbridled era of maximalism before parting ways with Gucci in November 2022 (amidst rumors he didn’t deliver a “strong design shift” demanded by higher-ups). Rumors of where he’d end up have dominated the fashion gossip cycle since.

Vogue Business confirmed the appointment on Thursday, March 29 revealing that Michele’s first day with the brand will be April 2nd with his debut collection set for the Spring/Summer 2025 season. While it is a smaller house than Gucci by sales, Valentino offers Michele a chance to design Haute Couture, which comes with control of Valentino’s famed atelier. He will also get to continue designing both women’s and men’s ready-to-wear. “It’s an incredible honour,” Michele said in a statement. “I feel the immense joy and the huge responsibility to join a Maison de Couture that has the word ‘beauty’ carved on a collective story made of distinctive elegance, refinement, and extreme grace.” Michele will become only the fourth designer to lead Valentino after its founder Valentino Garavani’s retirement in 2007.

Following the rumors of where Michele might end up has been its own slow fashion saga. Gucci is owned by Kering, and there were rumors that Michele had met with executives at its fashion conglomerate rival, LVMH. As recently as February, there were whispers that he was all but certain to take control of the LVMH-owned Fendi. At the same time, Michele was also linked to a revival of the Walter Albini label. Rights to the Italian fashion house’s names were purchased by an investment firm owned by Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who hoped to revive it à la fashion exec Diego Della Valle’s recent success with Schiaparelli. According to WWD, discussions were underway, but Michele balked at an investment clause in the contract. Rachid is also the chairman of Valentino. So it seems that that long road of discussions and rumors has landed Michele here. Want more business intrigue? Well, Kering, Michele’s former employer, recently purchased a stake in Valentino with reports it aims to buy it outright by 2028.

Michele is also well known for his devoted coterie of celebrity friends. The likes of Harry Styles, Jared Leto, and Dakota Fanning were both faces of Gucci and Michele’s personal friends. It would not be a surprise if they followed him to Versace.

While Michele’s departure from Gucci arguably kicked off this latest round of designer musical chairs, the game is far from over. The fashion world fully expects Piccioli to land on his feet eventually. And there are current creative director openings at Givenchy and several rumors about where both Piccioli and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton will land. Of course, people in fashion love to gossip, and Piccioli’s future will give them something new to discuss. Just remember that no one was gossiping about Michele taking over Valentino until just a few days ago.

Source: W Magazine

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