By Mimosa Spencer and Silvia Aloisi
PARIS (Reuters) -Creative director Alessandro Michele is leaving French luxury goods company Kering’s star label Gucci after seven years, Kering confirmed on Wednesday.
“I am grateful to Alessandro for bringing so much of himself in this adventure,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering in a statement, referring to the designer’s tenure as “an outstanding moment” in the label’s history.
The designer’s departure, which was first reported by Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), citing unnamed sources, followed tensions between the designer and Kering’s top management, a source told Reuters.
“There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have. Today an extraordinary journey ends for me, lasting more than twenty years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion,” said Michele.
A former accessories designer, Michele is credited with reviving Gucci’s popularity with flamboyant and gender-fluid styles.
Michele’s departure comes as the key holiday season approaches and the January fashion shows.
After pulling back during the pandemic, Gucci plans to return to a full fashion calendar next year, with six collections.
Kering did not name a successor to the designer Wednesday, noting that the label’s “design office will continue to carry the direction of the House forward until a new creative organization” is announced.
Kering shares opened up 2% on Wednesday after Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), citing unnamed sources, first reported Michele’s departure. The shares later gave up gains, but closed up 0.6%.
The shares are down by around 24% since the start of the year, compared with a drop of around 4% for LVMH.
“After seven years in charge of Gucci’s creative engine, it may well be time for a change, and consensus amongst institutional investors appears to be forming that a new approach is required to reignite the brand,” RBC analysts said in a note.
Michele, 49, is known for his eclectic personal style, instantly recognisable at red carpet events, with long hair and beard, often wearing elaborate, brocade tuxedos.
Alongside CEO Marco Bizzarri, he oversaw a period of soaring growth at Gucci between 2015 and 2019, with profits increasing nearly four-fold and revenue almost trebling.
But in recent quarters, Gucci has begun to lag its peers, with its performance in the key Chinese market becoming a source of concern for investors amid COVID-19 lockdowns.
(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Piotr Lipinski and Dominique Vidalon; Writing by Mimosa Spencer and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Louise Heavens, Jane Merriman and Anna Driver)