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The Alessandro Resurrection

Alessandro Michele
Alessandro Michele’s success will all come down to whether he can rehash his own past successes in a way that feels not only correct for Valentino, but for these times. Photo: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci
Lauren Sherman
April 1, 2024

As a person who craves resolution, I felt some relief on Thursday following the announcement that Alessandro Michele was indeed headed to Valentino, as I had previewed a few days earlier. But despite the happy ending, a lot was left unsaid in the heady post-engagement glow, and by Sunday I had spent more time digging into the appointment with industry friends and sources, some of whom expressed complicated feelings about the latest game of maison musical chairs.

For instance, an Italian insider suggested that Valentino should have stuck with creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, just as Chanel did with Karl Lagerfeld, who designed the brand until he died. Piccioli, after 25 years on the job, was as much a part of Valentino as Valentino Garavani, himself. Whether or not Piccioli left of his own accord, the fact that Valentino didn’t display that sort of fealty reflects the economic circumstances at Valentino, which is jointly owned by Mayhoola (70 percent) and Kering (which holds the remaining 30 percent but likely wants to return to a control position in the future). A designer like Nicolas Ghesquière can stay at Louis Vuitton indefinitely because it’s moving product. Valentino, on the other hand, has untapped potential and could be far, far more than women’s ready-to-wear, which was Piccioli’s specialty. The business needed to be fixed.