Following his blowout 3-day fashion fiesta in Rome earlier this summer, WWD is reporting today that Valentino and his longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, will both step down from their positions at Valentino after this season. Finally, the fashion industry's rampant speculation about Valentino's future role in the post-Permira world will come to an end. But, this will only make more room for the other question on everyone's lips: Who will replace Mr. Valentino?
Zac Posen and the designers behind Proenza Schouler (which was recently injected with $3.7m of funding from Valentino Fashion Group) are amongst the names being tossed around. Over at Fashion Inc the money is on Proenza Schouler. Others are saying that Alessandra Fachinetti, the former womenswear designer at Gucci, is at the front of the pack.
Regardless of who gets the job, this could spell trouble for Permira, who recently took a majority stake in the company. Unless Valentino himself continues to be involved in some way as a consultant or behind-the-scenes advisor and unless he is actively involved in choosing his successor, Permira may find it difficult to grow the business to provide the returns that Permira's investors expect, while also protecting the integrity of the brand for the long term.
Up until now, the driving force behind Valentino's success has been his partnership with Mr. Giammetti. With both of these key players gone, there are some seriously massive shoes to fill.