Here’s a new rule the world’s best fashion designers are getting acquainted with quick: don’t get to comfy in that plush atelier chair. Because, in the current style industry’s own version of an Iron Throne kerfuffle, there are more revolving design house doors than Game of Thrones plot turns.
And while the fashion world’s obsession with change is probably second only to the tech industry, even the most seasoned style biz commentator is finding it hard right now to keep up with who’s doing what and where.
Once upon a time, a designer like Karl Lagerfeld or John Galliano was elevated to the top job at a storied house, then stayed there for what seemed decades, becoming as linked to the brand as its own name. (Granted, Lagerfeld is an extreme example – he’s been head of Chanel for 23 years and womenswear designer at Fendi for 49, which in itself is a feat given the two houses are direct competitors. All hail the true king.)
Who knows if it’s the extra financial pressure on execs, the extra options available to talented creatives or just a sign of the changing, short-attention-span times, but one thing’s for certain now: unless your name’s on the letterhead, no design job is certain.
Today’s announcement that Peter Copping – the man who stepped into Oscar de la Renta’s very big shoes almost two years ago after the legendary designer personally oversaw the handover before his death – is leaving the New York-based house to return to Europe for “personal reasons” is another notch on 2016’s belt.
Add with new rumours swirling that Nicolas Ghesquiere may soon leave Louis Vuitton (a report brand bosses are vehemently denying), chances are there may be yet another top job available soon, too. Are you confused yet? This simple breakdown of this year’s hires and fires may help.
A quick guide to fashion’s Game of Thrones 2016
THE Out Shockwaves when the man who took the Yves out of Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane, departs the label in February with no warning, amid rumours of clashes over brand direction. All memory of the popular designer is wiped from the label’s Instagram account.
The IN Anthony Vaccarello (previously creative director at Versus Versace) was announced as Slimane’s replacement in April. His first collection will be the Spring/Summer 2016 shown at Paris Fashion Week.
The OUT In a case of unlucky 13, Francisco Costa departed in April after that many years at the New York-based brand following what is said to be an internal decision to rebrand and combine all of the divisions (men’s, women’s, denim, CK) under a single designer for the first time since Calvin himself.
The IN Rumours still swirl that Raf Simons (who left Dior in October 2015), is destined for the top job, but there’s been no confirmation.
The Out American it-designer Alexander Wang is released from his contract in July 2015 after just three years as creative director. Wang, who followed current Louis Vuitton design Nicolas Ghesquiere’s 15-year tenure, went back to working on his eponymous brand full time.
The In Vetements founder Demna Gvasalia who took the reins in three months after Wang’s departure, showed his first collection for the brand at Paris Fashion Week in February 2016 to wide acclaim.
The OUT The fashion world went into shock last October, as Alber Elbaz – one of the most loved and humble designers in the business – was ousted from the brand he’d spectacularly reinvented over 14 years at its head. A new company investor was blamed for the push.
The In Come March, Bouchra Jarrar (previously of Balenciaga) took the reins as artistic director. Still no sign of Elbaz yet, and while many hoped he would surface at Dior, that job eventually went to Maria Grazia Chiuri (read on).
The Out Maria Grazia Chiuri announces in June she’s leaving the label she completely reinvigorated with long-time design partner Pierpaolo Piccioli.
The In For the first time in 18 years, Piccioli stepped into a creative role – this time as design director – without Chiuri by his side.
The Out After just 3 years in the top job, Raf Simons amicably resigned as creative director to pursue (in his words) a “desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and passions that drive me outside my work”. It had been hoped Simon would fill the void left by long-time director John Galliano, who was famously fired after being caught on video during a drunken, abusive rant in a Parisian bar.
The In The worst kept secret in fashion – that Maria Grazia Chiuri was joining Dior as its first ever atelier head – was finally announced formally. The fashion world collectively cheers.
Oscar de la Renta
The out Peter Copping, the former head of Nina Ricci, who was hand-picked by Oscar De la Renta to succeed him at the brand before his death in 2014, hands in his notice in July 2016.
The In Word on the street is Jonathon Anderson may be tapped next. Watch this space.
Who will be next? Our bet’s on it NOT being Karl Lagerfeld. But then, nothing would really surprise us in the Game of Fashion these days.