Now, speculation is bound to shift to who might succeed Michele to electrify Gucci once again. Kering’s biggest challenge is answering the question Michele himself asked when invited to his fall 2017 show: “What are we going to do with all this future?”
A nice option might be Tom Ford, who was Gucci’s creative director from 1995 to 2004 and whom Michele called a “genius”. After Ford sold its eponymous brand to Estée Lauder for $2.8 billion earlier this month, Ford is contracted to remain as creative director through the end of 2023, by which time Michele’s remaining collections will likely come to an end. Kering himself was interested in taking over the Ford brand and may welcome the return of a designer whose luxe minimalism helped Gucci first gain fashion relevance in the 1990s. However, Ford itself might have other priorities.
More broadly, Gucci now faces a strategic decision. The first course of action might be to poach an established creative director with tried and tested credentials, either within your own brand stable or elsewhere. This is the easier and potentially safer option. Obvious names to consider from Kering are Matthieu Blazy, currently at Bottega Veneta, as well as Anthony Vaccarello, currently at Yves Saint Laurent. Other names that will certainly be up for debate include Riccardo Tisci and Phoebe Philo, whose long-awaited startup is yet to materialize. Among young independents, Peter Do could be a strong candidate.
The second, possibly preferable, option would be to try and repeat the trick Bizzarri pulled by appointing Michele, a total unknown at the time, to the top job. The great advantage of this is that the new designer’s codes – if and when they are successfully established – become a symbol for Gucci without prior association. Whoever Kering chooses, the new designer faces a move into a home whose entire identity, particularly in retail, is imbued with the eclectic aesthetic of the man they will replace.
The other question is Michele’s next target. Should his contract not include a long gardening holiday, his very specific skills could be of interest to Kering’s eternal rivals LVMH. After all, this role in menswear at Louis Vuitton is still waiting to be filled.
Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].