Gucci announced on Wednesday that its creative director would be leaving the company.
Mr. Michele, a Rome-born designer who took over the top job in 2015, had been instrumental in transforming Gucci, seemingly overnight, from a fading symbol of noughties glamour into a purveyor of eccentric inclusivity that embodied the broader cultural conversation around gender, sexual identity and race.
Kering, the French luxury conglomerate, made tens of billions of dollars thanks to his new vision for the brand. Marco Bizzarri, Gucci's chief executive, was credited with the success as he was responsible for the bulk of group profits.
As long as it went well. The growth had begun to slow. The basic offering began to elicit yawns rather than desire, even though Mr.Michele had tried to expand Gucci's reach via restaurants, the metaverse and collaborations with Adidas and Harry Styles. Gucci said in a statement that Mr. Michele would be leaving the company.
Mr.Michele gave thanks to Gucci's employees and said that there are times when paths part ways because of different perspectives. An extraordinary journey ends for me, lasting more than twenty years within a company to which I have devoted all my love and creative passion.
The Kering chairman and chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault said that the road that Gucci and Alessandro walked together over the years will remain an outstanding moment in the history of the house.
Until a successor is announced, the Gucci design team will continue to produce collections.
Speculation about his departure, which was reported by Women's Wear Daily, prompted an initial boost to Kering's share price, with analysts noting that a new designer could help to revive sales.
According to Luca Solca of the research firm, Gucci is suffering from brand fatigue, and consumers who bought early, particularly the Chinese, got bored first.
He said that it needed to open a new chapter in order to re-accelrate. Kering knows what they are doing and they have successfully revived faded brands before.
The tenure of Mr. Michele at Gucci was one example. He joined the brand in 2002 as an accessories designer and was almost completely unknown outside the company when Mr. Bizzarri named him creative director.
His aesthetic, which ranged freely across time periods, reference points and conceptions of beauty, seemed perfect for the more democratic social media age. His shows were a mix of muchness and character. His long hair and beard made him seem like a counterculture guru, and fashion almost treated him as such once the numbers began to tick up.
He held his first live show in a year in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Dakota Johnson and Billie Eilish in attendance, as well asJared Leto on the runway. One of his shows at Milan Fashion Week was an homage to identical twins.
Something has changed at the top at Kering. Mr. Pinault has made a change in direction three times. The first time was in 2004, when he parted ways with Tom Ford, and the second time was in 2014, when he fired the CEO.
He shocked the fashion world when he named the upstart designer Demna as artistic director of revered Balenciaga in 2015, and then shocked it again last year when he announced the sudden departure of Daniel Lee from Bottega Veneta.
The luxury fashion industry is still recovering from the effects of the Covid epidemic, which led to a renewed game of musical chairs in the industry.
Mr. Lee would be the new creative director. The rising star Matthieu Blazy became his design director. Tom Ford sold his name to Estée Lauder. The Belgian designer and co-creative director of Prada with Miuccia Prada said he was shuttering his eponymous label after 27 years. There are rumors that a new brand will be created by the former designer of Celine.
What happens next with Gucci will be the focus, as well as whether Mr. Bizzarri will also leave. In January, the brand is going to show its next men's collection. The show will continue as usual.