Slimane? Gvasalia? Wang? It is said that artistic directors at luxury fashion houses are in a perpetual game of “musical chairs” with designers hopping from one brand to another. It can get a tad bit confusing, and we totally get you! If you’re a fashionista who wants to stay in the loop, read on to see who’s where. Now, it’s only a question of who’ll be making the next switch…
Versace: Donatella Versace
The Italian luxury fashion house was founded by Gianni Versace in 1978. Since his infamous murder in 1997, his sister, Donatella Versace, took over as the brand's creative director. Last September, the news of Michael Kors buying Versace with a $2.12 billion deal was formally announced, but the reports have also confirmed that Donatella will retain her position as the brand's creative head.
Burberry: Riccardo Tisci
It was announced last March 2018 that the Italian designer would spearhead creative direction of British fashion house Burberry after much speculation. He was previously the creative director of Givenchy from 2005 to 2017. His designs thus far have been receiving good responses from consumers.
Gucci: Alessandro Michele
So great is the success of Michele’s direction of Gucci that it isn’t a stretch to say the two are synonymous. Michele is largely responsible for the brand’s resurgence after years of struggling in a competitive industry. He replaced Frida Giannini in 2015.
Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh and Nicolas Ghesquière
Also announced last March 2018 was news of Virgil Abloh, who was appointed artistic director for French luxury brand Louis Vuitton's menswear. The American designer, who founded eponymous streetwear brand Off-White, succeeds Kim Jones who moved to Dior Homme after his seven-year stint at LV.
Meanwhile, French designer Nicolas Ghesquière, who worked for 15 years in Balenciaga, continues to helm Louis Vuitton's women's collections since his appointment in November 2013.
Balenciaga: Demna Gvasalia
Head designer of cool collective Vetements had been Balenciaga’s creative director since Alexander Wang parted ways with the brand in 2015. The Georgian designer’s been injecting his couture meets street aesthetic into the Spanish fashion house. He is also responsible for the brand’s new logo, which was unveiled in 2017.
Valentino: Pierpaolo Picciolo
From 2008 to 2016, Piccioli worked in tandem with Maria Grazia Chiuri to direct the Italian brand. He’s been spearheading the creative work since Chiuri departed to become artistic director of French fashion house Christian Dior. Since then, he’s been bringing the romantic appeal of the Italian brand into the 21st century.
Saint Laurent: Anthony Vaccarello
Anthony Vaccarello is widely known for his namesake brand, Vaccarello, which boasts of a high dose of sex appeal. He replaced Hedi Slimane in 2016, who now spearheads Celine after his four-year stint at the French brand (his contract wasn’t renewed).
Celine: Hedi Slimane
As previously mentioned, Hedi Slimane now leads the French brand and succeeds the iconic Phoebe Philo (so revolutionary was her tenure that this present phase is often coined “post-Philo”). Slimane is responsible for the brand’s controversial logo change.
Lanvin: Bruno Sialelli
Since the brand’s glorious Alber Elbaz days, Lanvin has been struggling to regain momentum. Elbaz was followed by designers Bouchra Jarrar and Olivier Lapidus, who both had relatively short tenures. The brand’s management is now banking on Sialelli, then head menswear designer at Loewe, to rear Lanvin back into good shape. This news was announced in January 2019.
Calvin Klein: Role empty
As announced last December of 2018, Raf Simons exited the American brand after two years as the creative director. Prior to this role, Raf Simons held the reins at Christian Dior. According to Business of Fashion, the brand’s management is planning a total transformation, which entails new creative vision. The lead creative role has yet to be appointed.
Christian Dior: Maria Grazia Chiuri
As previously mentioned, Maria Grazia Chiuri bowed down from Valentino back in 2016, leaving her partner the sole creative mind for the Italian brand. She is now the artistic director—the first female one—of Christian Dior’s womenswear. Through her vision, she brings the classic glamour of the French brand into a younger, modern light.
Givenchy: Clare Waight Keller
Formerly under the helm of Riccardo Tisci from 2005 to 2017, Givenchy has been creatively led by British designer Clare Waight Keller (the brand’s first female director) who was the designer of Chloé prior to this. She is also frequently associated with being the designer of Meghan Markle’s wedding gown.
Balmain: Olivier Rousteing
Olivier Rousteing has been the fashion house’s creative director since 2011, and it seems like his success will not be eclipsed anytime soon. The French designer took over the brand after mentor Christophe Decarnin and stepped down. Since then, he’s been lending his maximalism, glamour, and edge to the 72-year-old brand—along with a new logo, which was released in December 2018.
Chanel: Virginie Viard
The fashion industry still mourns the passing of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who was at the helm of Chanel since 1983. It was due to him that the French brand was transformed and reimagined. Chanel announced in a statement that Virginie Viard would be his successor. Viard has been with the brand since 1987. She was Lagerfeld’s right hand and it was her responsibility to translate his visions into tangible pieces. He joined him for model fittings, choosing fabrics, and the overall maintenance of workshops. It was she who took the final bow after the Spring 2019 Haute Couture show when Lagerfeld felt too ill.
Creative directors may come and go, but the sartorial spirit of each brand lives on and is given new life whenever a new director comes along.