Alessandro Michele, who defined an era of menswear at the helm of Gucci, is out.
“There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have,” the designer said in a statement released by Gucci parent company Kering. “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.”
Michele took the creative reins of Italy’s largest fashion brand in 2015, jolting the sleeping giant awake with a debut men’s collection that felt like a revelation. Silky pussy bow blouses, loafers ringed with sumptuous fur, and groovy patterned suiting would form the foundation of Michele’s sensitive and fluid Gucci. (Speaking to the clarity of his creative vision and his skills in the design studio, that first collection came together in only five days, following the departure of Michele’s predecessor.)
Michele’s Gucci was an instant commercial success, with revenues tripling in the years following his debut. “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,” said François-Henri Pinault, Chairman & CEO of Kering. “I am grateful to Alessandro for bringing so much of himself in this adventure. His passion, his imagination, his ingenuity and his culture put Gucci center stage, where its place is. I wish him a great next chapter in his creative journey.”
Michele’s maximalist instincts and gender-bending silhouettes—Harry Styles, one of Michele’s friends and fans, famously wore a custom Gucci dress on the cover of Vogue—reverberated throughout the fashion industry. The Michele era kick-started fashion’s genderless revolution, and his work with celebrities like Styles (with whom Michele recently collaborated on a capsule collection), A$AP Rocky, and Jared Leto further collapsed the distance between luxury fashion and popular culture.
After nearly eight years, the rest of the industry had caught up with Michele’s influence, and fashion insiders had begun speculating about how Gucci would find new energy without jettisoning Michele’s bankable (but perhaps plateauing) aesthetic. Gucci reportedly missed its third quarter sales estimates this year. Until a new designer is announced, Gucci’s design studio will continue working on collections.
Michele’s statement continued: “During this long period Gucci has been my home, my adopted family. To this extended family, to all the individuals who have looked after and supported it, I send my most sincere thanks, my biggest and most heartfelt embrace. Together with them I have wished, dreamed, imagined. Without them, none of what I have built would have been possible. To them goes my most sincerest wish: may you continue to cultivate your dreams, the subtle and intangible matter that makes life worth living. May you continue to nourish yourselves with poetic and inclusive imagery, remaining faithful to your values. May you always live by your passions, propelled by the wind of freedom.”
What Gucci does next will be one of the most closely watched storylines in the fashion industry. But just as intriguing will be what’s next for Alessandro Michele, who in his time at Gucci helped change the arc of men’s fashion.