Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
Not even Miranda Priestly can keep up with all the crazy on Planet Fashion Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Fashion is all about newness, but this is getting ridiculous. Chemena Kamali? Seán McGirr? Bruno Sialelli? These days, we can barely get confident pronouncing designers' names for a casual name-drop (let alone get our heads around their interpretation of the house style) before they're back out through the industry's ever-revolving door. Ludovic De Saint Sernin, we're looking at you – departing from Ann Demeulemeester this past May, a mere two months after your debut show. Real Housewives have lasted longer.

Then came the shock announcement that Valentino's creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli was stepping away from the house after a stellar 25-year-old reign. The news sent planet fashion into a tailspin as speculation ran rampant about his replacement. In case you missed it, we can confirm it is former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele (cue: a collection fashion sigh of relief). On the subject of Gucci, the title of their own documentary introducing its new Creative Director says it all – "Who Is Sabato De Sarno?".

It's fair to say, the fashion industry is panicking. 'The data does not lie: in 2023, WWD ranked how long creative directors serve at 40 heritage fashion houses, finding more than half had been in their positions for less than five years, some never to be heard of again. A slow economy and geopolitical tensions (war/terrorism/elections) also mean luxury spending is "turbulent". Meanwhile, fashion is now an investors' playground and investors want profits, like, yesterday. So any designer caught sketching a vision when they should be selling product will be jettisoned faster than you can say Ludovic De Saint Sernin.

The world's No.1 fashion house LVMH recently bypassed this problem, by simply cutting to the top of the Google results page and appointing mega+ influencer Pharrell Williams (15.3m followers on Insta), now two main collections deep as Louis Vuitton's Men's Creative Director. Fashion purists may balk at the appointment of an entertainer at the Maison *clutches MNG party pearls*, but his predecessor, the late and much-lamented Virgil Abloh was already signifying the house's direction of travel; (essentially, leveraging his cultural dexterity to create brand buzz).

Cowboy Core
Louis Vuitton Fall 2024 Menswear. Courtesy of Launchmetrics Spotlight

While Pharrell's previous Louis Vuitton guest collections (outerwear, jewelry, sunglasses) alongside Vuitton forerunners Marc Jacobs and then Abloh, seemed with the benefit of hindsight, like the world's longest multi-stage job interview (Gen Z can relate); industry insiders know the house's main cash cow has always been leather, which remains the responsibility of LV's Director of Leather Goods, Darren Spaziani. Regardless; live streams of Pharrell's debut show last June gained 1 billion views on its various platforms, thanks somewhat to a FROW featuring Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, Jay Z and Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian and new brand ambassador Zendaya.

Related: This month LVMH opened an entertainment division, 22 Montaigne, a central platform to connect its 75 houses with the entertainment industry. Realizing nobody watches ads anymore (not if we can possibly avoid it – skip!), luxury brands are deciding the solution is to be the shows themselves: with the 22 Montaigne's debut, Dior drama The New Look, now on AppleTV (see also: the Disney+ Cristóbal Balenciaga drama series, 2021's House of Gucci movie etc). These stories lure viewers into luxuriating, often night after night, in a brand's heritage story – even when its current story (and role of Creative Director) may be in a state of flux.

Meanwhile, while the names are new, some of the designs, not so much. De Sarno's Gucci is very sexy minimalist à la Tom Ford 90s, which is not surprising given that parent company Kering allegedly parted ways with predecessor Alessandro Michele to crank up flagging profits; Gucci brings in half of Kering's sales. Like Michele's, Ford's era at the house had been a high point, for profits and credibility alike. While fashion critics on X approve of De Sarno's debut, the last reported sales were down 4% year-on-year, so a little of that Ford magic would be good rn.

Gucci Fall Winter 2024 Collection
Gucci Fall Winter 2024 Collection Courtesy of Spotlight

At Chloe, new Creative Director Chemena Kamali is, chronologically, the new Gabriela Hearst, but stylistically the new Phoebe Philo; reintroducing Boho on the FW24 runways. Of course, Boho has been the Chloe signature look for decades (Kamali claims to be inspired by Karl Lagerfeld's 70s tenure); most recently reintroduced to blockbuster commercial success during with Philo's Sienna-Millery-vest-top-and-It-bag 00s. That Kamali is so in tune with all things Chloe is less surprising when you realize she had previously worked at Chloe under both Philo and her successor Claire Waight Keller. The Boho Remix was a hit; stay tuned.

Boho 2.0
A giant leather bag on the Chloe Fall 2024 runway. Courtesy of Launchmetrics Spotlight

So, are newer names so afraid to step into their predecessor's monogrammed shoes that they're hiding out in the house archives? At Alexander McQueen, new Creative Director Seán McGirr replayed the enfant terrible's iconic bumster trousers as... bumster dresses and jackets; took a stab at McQueen's famously angular take on Savile Row tailoring, and even upcycled McQueen's own leftovers onto the runway; "[McGirr] found an old mesh toile from the 90s that had never been used and 'trapped' it in layers of tulle" – perhaps a metaphor too far? Even McGirr's response to the criticism was a recycled McQueen quote: "I'd rather people hated what I do than not give a sh*t about it".

Fashion Month Fall 2024 Trends
Alexander McQueen Fall 2024. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Maybe an Is It Cake? aesthetic is the inevitable outcome of designers who are not given long enough to bed into heritage houses to find their own vision. Ludovic De Saint Sernin's departure from Ann Demeulemeester, fast on the heels of his only, yet critically acclaimed, collection for the label, followed a month in which Rhuigi Villasenor left Bally, Charles de Vilmorin quit Rochas and Benjamin Alexander-Huseby and Serhat Işık departed Trussardi – all relatively unknown young designers just trying to make their mark.

They can only look on in envy as Dries van Noten retired this month after 38 years of running his own independent label. The beautiful Belgian, known for his beautiful fabrications and beautiful sense of color, has always gone his own beautiful way and as a result, is thought to be one of the few designers that make money from clothes as well as accessories. He commented last year "Now you have conglomerates. it's hard for young designers to stay independent even if they wanted to."

Being 'independent' from a luxury conglomerate is, however, relatively easy if you are female and/or black. McGirr's appointment announcement quickly sparked outrage as it was noted that he was to become the sixth, out of six, creative directors at Kering – all now male and white.

Fashion Month Fall 2024 Trends
Christian Dior Fall 2024. Courtesy of Launchmetrics Spotlight

Women taking over from men in fashion is all too rare; Karl Lagerfeld's right-hand woman and successor, Virginie Viard at Chanel and Maria Grazia Chiuri replacing Raf Simons at Dior, notable – and successful – exceptions. Lagerfeld was also one of only a few male designers at Chloe, which has been run almost exclusively by women from Stella McCartney to Philo, Keller, Hearst, and now Kamali, since being founded by the free-spirited Gaby Aghion in 1952. The Chloe women will be celebrated in the aptly titled exhibition "Mood of the Moment: Gaby Aghion and the House of Chloé" at the Jewish Museum in New York, opening its doors on 13 October.

With new young names being appointed at so many major labels, where does that leave more established designers?

Alessandro Michele reigned over a profit-rocketing eight years at Gucci, and his young and fun 70s-inspired trendsetting maximalism redefined the fashion zeitgeist, before fizzling out as Gen Z inevitably moved on. Michele made a sudden exit in November 2022, saying cryptically "There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have." At least he'll be bringing his perspective to Valentino.

Pierpaolo Piccioli and Florence Pugh At The Meta Gala
Pierpaolo Piccioli and Florence Pugh At The Meta Gala Mike Coppola Getty Images

Pierpaolo Piccioli enjoyed nearly a quarter of a century at Valentino (including a previous nine years as the house's accessories designer) dressing young Hollywood on the red carpet; and everyone else with his ubiquitous Rockstud shoe. Okay, the Rockstud was back in 2010, but still, the announcement of his "mutually agreed" departure still felt like a shock.

As Sabato De Sarno settles in at Gucci, and Michele takes the reigns at Valentino, one thing is for certain. There's no need for a "Who Is Alessandro Michele?" documentary.


BACKSTORY: Prada, Valentino, Dolce & Gabanna

STEPPING INTO: Alessandro Michele's floral jacquard kangaroo-fur-lined Princetown loafers at Gucci fromSS24

RUMOUR HAS IT: the pressure is on for the designer to revive the Kering flagship label's – sales at the brand were down 4% following his debut

HE'S THE REASON: your new Gucci loafers are giving stacked (and glossy burgundy red)

HEADLINE-GRABBING MOVE: Ryan Gosling's custom pink rhinestone studded tuxedo for his Oscars-obliterating 'I'm Just Ken' extravaganza

FRONT ROW FRIENDS: Kendall Jenner x Bad Bunny, Julia and Emma Robertses, Ryan Gosling, Paul Mescal, Halle Bailey, and campaign 'face' Daria Werbowy.

SEAN MCGIRR at Alexander McQueen since FW24

STEPPING INTO: Sarah Burton's white Nikes

BACKSTORY: JW Anderson, Dries Van Noten, Burberry

HE'S THE REASON: Kering has an all-white all-male lineup of Creative Directors (grrr) following his appointment - causing outrage in the industry

RUMOUR HAS IT: Following the above outcry McGirr is thought to have toned down some of the "rough glamour" theme of his debut collection to appear less controversial.

HEADLINE-GRABBING MOVE: I mean, where to start...? The rigid steel 'car' dresses? The hoof shoes with tails? The truck-tyre-sized cowl collar knits?

FRONT ROW FRIENDS: LVMH Mob Wife Salma Hayek (sharp suit/silver bodice) and Juliette Binoche, (loose white tailoring), 90s Alexander McQueen OGs Frankie Rayder and Debra Shaw strode the runway to an Enya soundtrack (McGirr is Irish)

CHEMENA KAMALI at Chloe since FW24

STEPPING INTO: Gabriela Hearst's Chloe gold wedge Rebecca ankle boots

BACKSTORY: Chloe (Philo/Keller), YSL, Lanvin

SHE'S THE REASON: You want a boho blouse (Kamali is a blouse-obsessive, telling Vogue she owns "600, 700")

FRONT ROW FRIENDS: Boho OG Boho girl Sienna Miller,plusLiya Kebede, Kiernan Shipka, Georgia May Jagger, Pat Cleveland, Anna Cleveland, Anne Watanabe, Suzy Bemba, Manon Bresch, Clémence Poésy, Alice Isaaz, Kathryn Newton, Thomasin McKenzie, Marisa Abela, Eva Danino and Lou Lampros

HEADLINE GRABBING MOVE: The front row were all wearing matching black wedge sole platform slingback sandals – Kamali's it shoe for her Chloe debut. Well played.

RUMOUR HAS IT: Kamali was already running a "parallel studio at Chloe" in preparation to take over the role prior to Hearst's stepping down. Sussy.

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