More Alessandro Murmurs & McQueenology

The rumors linking LVMH and Alessandro Michele just won’t quit.
The rumors linking LVMH and Alessandro Michele just won’t quit. Photo: Miguel Medina/Getty Images
Lauren Sherman
October 5, 2023

It would be unkind, but you could convincingly say that Fashion Month begins with Prada and ends with Miu Miu. I loved the Twitter discourse around the latter: several of the online critics (like, my favorite Rian Phin), pointed out that Miu Miu threw back to its original school blazer and ruffled mini, “little sister” look, which in turn had influenced so much mall fashion in the U.S. (Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle) in the early 2000s. The mix of that and the flapper dresses felt almost nostalgic, although Miuccia Prada seems to have an evolved relationship with the past.

At the end of the show, Prada, who remains the sole creative director of Miu Miu, once again pulled exiting design director Fabio Zambernardi onto the stage for her bow. He seemed more comfortable this time. There are questions of what he will do next: despite working at Prada for more than 40 years, he still seems quite young. But my hunch is that he’ll take some time. That sort of enmeshment can’t be easily shaken off.

By the end of the season, there was intense speculation that Prada herself would be retiring at the end of the year. I heard something about this in Milan from someone with superior information, but I dismissed it, probably because I don’t want it to be true. Also, Prada is gelling so well right now, it would be nice to have her working for as long as possible. But as I mentioned before, she is an evolved creature, who is fabulously wealthy (she and Patrizio Bertelli are worth about $11 billion), and she’ll do whatever she pleases.

There are other places, however, where change is afoot. Or at least needs to be. For a while, it felt that Chanel was holding their ground with Lagerfeld successor Virginie Viard. In the beginning of her tenure, her designs had an air of realness to them that many wannabe Chanel customers craved. Something has shifted, though, over the past few seasons. The collections are feeling less and less inspired, perhaps signaling that Viard, too, is ready to move on.

There’s speculation that every Louis Vuitton women’s show will be Nicolas Ghesquière’s last, but I thought there was some really good stuff in this one. (I’ll take the bombers and the flowing skirts, and pass on the suspenders.) One of my favorite pieces from the Azzedine Alaïa archive show at the Palais Galliera was a dress designed by Ghesquière while he was at Balenciaga: all black, but different textiles stitched together with beading. People can be judgmental about Ghesquière’s work at Vuitton, which can sometimes feel out of touch. It’s easy to forget he’s one of the greatest.

The rumors linking LVMH and Alessandro Michele also won’t quit. The nice thing about the end of Paris, though, was that it wasn’t entirely dominated by mega brands. I tapered off my show-going by the end, but I managed to catch Sacai on Monday (loved the trousers), and on Tuesday, a new collection from Torishéju Dumi, who is Nigerian-Brazilian by way of North-West London. Gabriella Karefa-Johnson styled it, Naomi Campbell walked, and I liked how Dumi twisted and manipulated material. Also, it’s always fun to land at a show to find that everyone is there because word spread by mouth. Fashion isn’t what it used to be, except for when it is. 

McQueen Beyond the Woman Problem

On Monday, two days after Sarah Burton showed her last collection for Alexander McQueen, and less than 24 hours before Sean McGirr was named the new creative director of the Kering owned label, a discreet friend mentioned to me that someone had revealed all this to her. But she couldn’t recall the person’s name—only that it was a man. “I’m a great keeper of secrets because I can’t remember anything,” she said. 

It’s also unlikely she had heard of McGirr before, a number-two whose most notable experience was running ready-to-wear at JW Anderson, Loewe designer Jonathan Anderson’s own label, for the past couple of years. Much has already been written about what McGirr’s appointment says about the industry: there are plenty of women and people of color working in fashion, but at the top, it’s still pretty much all white people, and mostly men. At Kering, every major creative director is a white guy.

Why and how? Well, there’s systemic racism. There’s misogyny. But how do those things manifest in fashion design? At a dinner the other night, I was seated across from a designer who came up through the ranks with Glenn Martens, Matthieu Blazy, and Demna: so many of his peers have big jobs now, and that’s not a coincidence. As the journalist Louis Pisano noted on Twitter, “These people’s social circles look exactly like them and they always end up hiring from those circles which is why you really don’t see much team diversity internally….”