Alessandro Michele has stepped down as Gucci’s creative director after almost eight years, a period that saw him help revive and transform the Italian label’s fortunes.
Announcing the decision Wednesday, the luxury house’s parent company, Kering, said the 49-year-old designer had “played a fundamental part in making the brand what it is today.”
The conglomerate’s chairman and CEO, François-Henri Pinault, added in a statement: “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 center stage, where its place is.”
Having joined Gucci as a handbag designer, and with no experience helming a major label, Michele was a surprise appointment to the top job in 2015. But with the brand’s relevance seemingly in decline, he instigated a major overhaul of its identity, eschewing the overtly sexy aesthetic pioneered by predecessor Tom Ford in favor of a more whimsical aesthetic dubbed “geek chic.”
Models walk the runway at Milan Fashion Week in Michele’s last major show for Gucci. Credit: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci
His genderfluid collections also increasingly blurred the distinction between the label’s menswear and womenswear lines, while savvy collaborations with the likes of Adidas and The North Face helped give the label mass market appeal.
Alessandro Michele with Jared Leto at the Met Gala in May 2022. Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Revenue surged during Michele’s time at the helm. Kering owns several other major brands, including Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent, but Gucci now generates more than all of them combined, reportedly making 9.7 billion euros ($10.1 billion) for the company last year.
Michele, who joined Gucci in 2002, said in a statement on Wednesday: “There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have. Today an extraordinary journey ends for me, lasting more than twenty years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion.
“During this long period Gucci has been my home, my adopted family,” he said, adding: “Together with them I have wished, dreamed, imagined.”
Michele’s replacement has yet to be unveiled, with Kering suggesting that more change may lie ahead. The conglomerate’s press release said that Gucci’s design office will steer the brand’s output until a “new creative organization” is announced.
Top Image: Alessandro Michele appears at the end of the Gucci’s Fall-Winter 2016 show at Milan Fashion Week (Reuters/Stefano Rellandini).