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The changing face of fashion

As cuts, hems and colours continue to evolve, designers and creative directors also move houses, keeping the industry in a beautiful state of flux

Change might not always be seen as positive, but in the ever-evolving fashion world, it's often a game-changer, keeping things fresh and exciting. Beyond shifting trends, it's the flux of creative minds steering iconic design houses that reshapes the styles we adore, season after season. In the past year, this dynamic landscape has witnessed significant shifts as renowned creative directors bid farewell to their esteemed positions, making room for other industry creatives. From the departures of stalwarts like Tom Ford and Sarah Burton to exciting new appointments, the changing face of fashion continues to captivate the industry's attention.


After an immensely successful eight-year tenure as Creative Director for Gucci, Alessandro Michele, who took his first bow on the runway in 2015, shockingly parted ways with the label in 2022. The Roman designer's acclaimed run revitalised the Italian label's appeal with his signature maximalist designs and distinctive geek-chic aesthetic.

Filling this significant gap, designer Sabato De Sarno stepped into one of the industry's most coveted roles in January 2023, debuting his first collection during Milan's September fashion week. With experience from renowned fashion houses like Prada, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana, De Sarno drew inspiration from Gucci's archives. Although initial reviews were mixed, only time will tell if he manages to make his mark!

Tom Ford

In April 2023, American designer Tom Ford bid farewell to his eponymous fashion brand, which he founded in 2005, likely departing from the fashion world altogether to focus on his film career. Renowned for his pivotal role in reviving the ailing house of Gucci from 1994 to 2004 and his notable stint at YSL, Ford sold his brand to Estee Lauder for a reported US$2.8 billion.

He left the label in the capable hands of Peter Hawkings, who served as Ford's right-hand man for 25 years. His debut collection at Paris Fashion Week received widespread acclaim, signalling promising times ahead.

Alexander McQueen

Designing Kate Middleton's wedding gown for her marriage to Prince William in 2011 propelled Sarah Burton into the spotlight. Her journey with Alexander McQueen began in 1996 during a placement year while studying in London. Returning after graduation, she swiftly rose to head of womenswear design in 2000, collaborating closely with the brand's founder, Lee Alexander McQueen. Following his passing in February 2010, Burton was considered the natural successor by the brand's parent company Gucci Group, now known as Kering. After 13 successful years at the helm, Burton stepped down in September 2023.

Now, Irish designer Sean McGirr has taken the reins, debuting at Paris Fashion Week in March 2024. A relative newcomer, he took his first steps in the industry with Burberry, later working with Uniqlo, Dries Van Noten and JW Anderson, before being appointed at Alexander McQueen.

Louis Vuitton

Virgil Abloh's sudden passing in November 2022 sent shockwaves through the industry, leaving a void in Louis Vuitton's menswear division. After careful consideration over four months, the brand made an unexpected move by appointing record producer and songwriter Pharrell Williams as Abloh's successor.

The decision surprised many, as it was anticipated that a seasoned fashion designer would assume the role. However, Louis Vuitton remained true to the instinct that initially led them to Abloh – trusting in a street-savvy tastemaker. Williams's debut show, set on a Parisian bridge with a live performance by J Zay, has already proven the maison's gamble to be successful. See our top picks from his first collection for the house here.


Gabriela Hearst taking on the role of Chloé's Artistic Director in 2021 seemed a natural fit, as the designer has long championed transparency and sustainability in fashion. Chloé's attainment of B Corp certification further emphasised their shared commitment to social responsibility. However, Hearst's partnership with the brand ended abruptly after just three years in September 2023 due to the demands of her trans-Atlantic schedule, balancing her New York-based namesake label while also helming Chloé's design studio in Paris.

Subsequently, Chloé swiftly announced the appointment of German designer Chemena Kamali as Creative Director. Kamali brings a wealth of experience, having previously worked at the French fashion house under Phoebe Philo and Clare Waight Keller, followed by a tenure as Design Director at Saint Laurent under Anthony Vaccarello. Her return to Chloé signals a new chapter for the iconic French fashion house – a brand she says her heart has always belonged to.


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