LONDON, United Kingdom — It's been a blockbuster week of power moves in fashion.
On Tuesday, Mike Jeffries, erstwhile chief executive of troubled teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch stepped down after managing the business for many years, first to great success in the 1990s and more recently into serious trouble. Reports of his erratic behaviour and unreasonable demands seemed not to help matters.
Then on Wednesday, BoF broke the surprise story that John Galliano would show his first collection for Maison Martin Margiela in London on January 12th at the tail end of London Collections: Men. While this move may have ruffled the feathers of the French establishment at the Chambre Syndicale, Galliano fans the world over seemed to rejoice at the confirmation that his long-awaited comeback was really on course.
And finally, today, Kering released the bombshell statement of the week, announcing that Gucci's Frida Giannini and Patrizio di Marco, the brand's creative director and chief executive, respectively, (who are also a couple and have a child together), will be stepping down imminently from their roles at Kering's largest brand, which has lost its lustre and suffered declining sales in recent years.
In a week of big announcements, it's this most recent one that has the biggest long-term implications for the global fashion industry and could set off a series of further musical chairs in fashion's creative and executive ranks.
Marco Bizzarri, a trusted, long-time executive at Kering, who in April became chief executive of Kering's luxury-couture and leather goods division, will step down from this role and become the full-time chief executive of Gucci as of January 1st, perhaps reflecting the priority of the Gucci turnaround. In the meantime, François-Henri Pinault will take on Mr Bizzarri's role in the interim while his replacement is found.
But deciding who should take up the reins as Gucci's new creative director will represent the biggest strategic decision of all. After Giannini — who was initially tapped to lead Gucci's leather goods after the dramatic departure of Tom Ford in 2004, becoming creative director in 2006 — who can steer Gucci back to fashion relevance?
The most obvious name — and the one bandied about most frequently amongst fashion insiders — is that of Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci, whose own aesthetic could be a good match for Gucci (and Tisci really only does Tisci) and who has the language and cultural skills to slot in quickly to the Gucci studio and ateliers in Italy.
But Tisci, who continues to soar at Givenchy, may be reluctant to leave when things are going so well for him at the LVMH-owned brand. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't as the saying goes. It would probably take a very generous financial package and incentives to lure him away — and LVMH would most likely fight to keep him.
Christopher Kane, who sold a majority stake to Kering in 2013, certainly has the creative ideas and potential to inject new life into Gucci, which floundered under Giannini's more product-led approach to design. That said, Kane is just getting started on the journey to commercialising his own fledgling brand, which has been critically praised, but has yet to have major business success.
The darkhorse for the role may be Joseph Altuzarra, another designer from within the Kering family. Altuzarra trained under Tisci at Givenchy, has cited Tom Ford at Gucci as his most important designer inspiration and was publicly supported by Mr Ford's go-to-stylist Carine Roitfeld early on in Altuzarra's career. In a way, he has the genetic codes of Gucci under Tom Ford in his own DNA. Whether he could mine that inspiration for something fresh and current, while also growing his own business, remains a question, but he has the passion and excitement for Gucci that could make all the difference.
Please enjoy our top stories for the week gone by:
John Galliano to Show First Margiela Collection in London
BoF has learned that John Galliano, the recently appointed creative director at Paris fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, will show his first couture collection for the brand in London in January.
Inside Outerknown, Kelly Slater’s New Kering-backed Surf-Lifestyle Brand
BoF brings you an exclusive look inside champion surfer Kelly Slater’s new Kering-backed ‘coastal lifestyle’ label.
How Ugg Turned a Fashion Trend Into a Staple
BoF discovers that behind Ugg Australia’s ubiquitous sheepskin boot lies a billion-dollar business as reliable and resilient as leather.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ Brands: Myth or Magic Formula?
Arnaud de Lummen has built a successful business resurrecting dormant fashion brands and selling them to investors. But many attempts at brand revivals have met with mixed results. What does it take to successfully resuscitate a dormant brand? And is it worth it?
In South Africa, More Evolution than Revolution
A year after the death of Nelson Mandela and two decades since the end of apartheid, South Africa’s fashion market holds up a skewed mirror to its vibrant and incredibly complex society.
And don’t forget to check out BoF Weekly, a week in review published with Flipboard and updated every Saturday.
Imran Amed Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 13 December, 2014. An earlier version of this article misstated that Marco Bizzarri would continue in his role as chief executive of Kering's luxury-couture and leather goods division. In fact, he will step down from this role and become full-time chief executive of Gucci, effective January 1st, 2015.