When the Time to Say “Adieu” Comes

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The fashion industry has seen many changes in the last year. Important figures of the fashion scene have in fact resigned, often leaving behind a void that has yet to be filled. And recent events seem to suggest that this trend is not going to end anytime soon.

Last July, a statement from the Kering Group confirmed the rumours of Alexander Wang’s departure from Balenciaga in his role as creative director. The resignation of the American designer had been whispered about for quite a while before the official declaration; the fashion press and experts believe this decision was made because Wang had shown an increasing interest in pursuing his own independent career with Alexander Wang Inc. In fact, after only three years at the brand, Wang, in agreement with the Kering Group, did not renew his contract. Certainly dividing his life between Paris and New York, where the headquarters of his own company are, must have been a bit of a hassle. The designer has spent the last year looking for investors for his own brand, which most probably means his intentions are to continue on his own way.

Similarly, in October of last year, magazines declared the shocking news – at least for any fashionistas around the world – of the resignation of Raf Simons as creative director of Dior. The Belgian designer released a statement calling on “personal reasons” for his departure that ratified this rather unexpected news. Since Simons entered in 2012, Dior has seen a constant and steady growth in its profits, and Simons’ legacy is undeniable. As it emerged in the documentary on the French maison “Dior and I,” a lot of doubts were expressed regarding Simons’ debut. He was considered too much of a “minimalist” for the grandiloquent style of Dior. Nevertheless, the designer has been able to re-define the brand’s style in his own way, bringing it down-to-to earth and making it more sober and simple. As for the motives behind Simons resignation being “personal,” it has led the fashion world to assume that he is likely to continue focusing more on his own label, Raf Simons, just as Alexander Wang is doing.

It seems nowadays that more and more often, fashion designers of major brands are tired of working under someone else’s name. Marc Jacobs’ exit from Louis Vuitton, in order to continue his personal career, is an exemplary illustration of this trend. This is understandable in the light of the fact that as artists and creative people, they seek to be able to express themselves more freely, unattached to the strict rules and the frenetic rhythms of the fashion giants. Both Simons and Wang still need to be officially replaced.

Despite this, fashion is still mainly a business and not only about floral gowns and silk robes. Fashion is also about strategies and making profit (Yes. In one word – money). And yes, strategy is the reason why a week after the resignation of Simons, we witnessed the end of the Elbaz – Lanvin duo. The Israeli designer stepped down from his role at Lanvin after a long-lasting partnership since 2001. Alber Elbaz is the mind behind the incredible success of the Paris-based brand in the last decade. Lanvin has, in fact, grown from being a small and not very well known company, to one of the major and most important names in the fashion sphere, favourite amongst celebrities from Meryl Streep to Natalie Portman. Apparently nothing is made to last, as unfortunately the Elbaz era also has come to an end. However, in this case the fashion designer himself has explained the reason behind the separation. Elbaz cited “opposing views on the company’s business vision” for his departure. What these opposing views are is still not clear, but, what is certain is that this time the resignation of a creative director was dictated mainly by business motives.

The latest in these series of key players leaving their dominant roles in the fashion industry is the decision of Chanel Global CEO, Maureen Chiquet, leaving her position as of January 2016. Chiquet joined Chanel in 2003 and worked her way up, becoming CEO in 2007. As one of very few women in such a role in the luxury sector, she achieved great results. During her tenure the company flourished incredibly. The explanations behind her exit are again “differences of opinion about the strategic direction of the company.”

So, what is happening within the fashion industry? Though this sector has always had a certain amount of turbulence, what we are seeing now is unprecedented. Major insiders have left fundamental roles vacant, for various reasons. For Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin a few months have gone by since the exit of their respective creative directors, nevertheless none of them have found a replacement. Could it be that all these companies are looking for fresh and unheard of artists? Gucci’s choice of Alessandro Michele seems to follow this idea, an unknown yet talented artist who can develop his potential under the guidelines of the fashion house. Perhaps this is the latest fashion trend, a fresh face? One thing’s for sure, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this developing issue.

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