“Alessandro Michele’s exuberance ended up tiring”

HASWith his thick beard and very long black hair behind, Alessandro Michele cultivates his Christian allure. But the messiah will no longer perform miracles. The man, who had spectacularly straightened out the Gucci brand, exits the scene. The creative director of the main fashion brand of the French group Kering has announced his departure, after twenty years of service and seven years at the helm of the prestigious brand.

Love at first sight in the world of luxury, and in particular for Kering. The group is number two in the world in the sector behind LVMH, and Gucci accounts for 55% of its sales and three-quarters of its operating profit. Alessandro Michele imposed his exuberant style, his large flowers on bags and shoes, his shirts, dresses and trousers in bright colors and eclectic and androgynous shapes.

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An eccentric inclination, accompanied by a policy of high prices and very exclusive distribution in its stores, which has worked wonders in emerging countries, particularly in China, and also among young American stars. But you have to believe that everything is tired, even the gaiety and the colors, even among the nouveau riche.

The era of black tailors

In 2021, Gucci’s sales growth was twice as weak as that of Yves Saint Laurent, the group’s other prestigious brand. However, his ultra-classic style of trouser suit all in black is the exact opposite of Gucci. Analysts speak of a “fatigue” of consumers, as if they had passed into adulthood, that of black tailors.

Paradoxically, this champion of the diversity of shapes is thus criticized for not having changed his style. Gucci’s relative underperformance in 2022 contrasted with the strong results of its two French rivals, LVMH and Hermès, whose stock valuations have soared. Twice smaller in turnover, Hermès is now worth twice as much on the stock market as Kering.

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Relentless lockdowns in China have not helped the situation. We had to react, and Alessandro, who believed he could walk on water, had to surrender to economic reason. After all, he had come to power in 2015 following the dismissal of the previous tandem of the brand, made up of Patrizio di Marco and the designer Frida Giannini.

As in entertainment and sport, fashion is built on the success of a few creative stars capable of imagining the reasons for a mythology corresponding to the spirit of the moment. The flamboyant Italian could take over from the writer Alphonse Daudet, who noted, in Letters from my millThat “the time of windmills like that of carriages on the Rhône, of parliaments and jackets with large flowers was past”.

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