For months, fashion insiders have been endlessly entertained by speculation surrounding where Alessandro Michele, the wildly successful Gucci designer who recently split over creative differences, will go next. Some of the more educated guesses are unlikely yet compelling (Bulgari), while others are flat-out silly (Chanel). But there’s one with sticking power.
A few weeks back, I referenced an Italian report that Mayhoola for Investments—the Qatari royal family’s answer to LVMH, which owns Valentino and Balmain—was rumored to be buying the long-dormant brand Walter Albini expressly for Michele to relaunch the business. Unexpectedly, when I was in New York, someone who frequently deals with the Qataris confirmed the purchase—although I’m told the actual buyer is Bidayat, Mayhoola C.E.O. Rachid Mohamed Rachid’s early-stage investment fund, owned by his Swiss-based family office, Alsara Investment Group. (The two organizations work hand-in-hand—one is focused on developing brands with $1 billion a year in sales or more, the other is looking at tiny businesses with potential.)
As for whether Michele will actually join in on the fun, that’s less certain. In some ways, the marriage couldn’t make more sense. Albini may not be very well known in America, but the designer himself was hugely influential on fashion in the 1960s and ’70s, not only through his work—which inspired Michele’s fantastical voyage at Gucci decades later—but also through the way he conducted business.