“Recently, the fashion system has been rocked by continuous changes within its ranks. Well-known names leaving their positions as creative director in famous fashion houses, a series of shake-ups not seen for some time. What do you think is causing this situation? And what positive and negative impacts will it have on the system?”


Cristina Manfredi, journalist at Vanity Fair

I think we need to make a distinction between those who chose to leave their positions because of a need to slow down the creative rhythm and those who took strategic decisions for their careers. If I think about Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz, I see their need to rethink their way of working, based on personal inclinations. It’s true that Simons left of his own accord, while Elbaz found himself in an awkward position that led to him saying farewell to Lanvin. Both, however, complained about an inability to work due to timing that was too tight and pressing. I think Hedi Slimane’s position is different. His motivation appears to be more focused on goals that, in economic terms, have now veered away from those of the Saint-Laurent management. 
Hard to say whether the impact is negative or not. I’m naturally in favour of innovation and change, only it seems to me that the creatives were given less and less time to produce convincing ideas. With the market at the speed it’s at, these ideas get eaten up in a flash, leaving the designers increasingly anxious. I guess that it’s impossible to slow down this dynamic now, also because we as consumers have increasingly pressing demands and we quickly fall out of love with something that up until the season before seemed interesting.
I suppose that the solution is to create two different tracks for fashion. One for those who, by vocation, want to go fast. Another for those who are happy to sacrifice heftier business levels to carve out a slower niche.

Simone Marchetti, fashion editor of La Repubblica, and

The profound changes taking place in the fashion system do not surprise me. On the contrary, I find them almost late compared to the large, drastic revolution that the internet has brought to all levels of society. From economics to politics, from information to science through to our own ways of learning, loving, understanding and therefore even dressing ourselves. This game of musical chairs being played by designers, both famous and less so, is only the tip of the iceberg of all this. In my opinion, something is going on that is very similar to what happened in the transition from Worth to Chanel, at the beginning of the twentieth century. And those analysing and criticising the change with the categories of yesterday are in danger of losing sight of the actual facts, seeking refuge in an easy, slippery and, at least from my point of view, pointless form of nostalgia. I’m fascinated and intrigued by the work that Alessandro Michele and Marco Bizzarri, Demna Gvasalia and Christopher Bailey are doing and the changes they are making at multiple levels. I therefore follow with interest Raf Simons’ repeated declarations that it is impossible to give in to the rules of “new” fashion and I think it was right for him to leave Dior, even assuming that the decision was made for him rather than by him. On the other hand, I cannot fail to notice how Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino are able to do even more than Raf Simons, while maintaining levels of creativity and inspiration as high, if not higher, than those achieved by the last Dior. In my opinion, the time has come to do away with all the prejudice of the past and embrace the new, at all levels and in all its implications, with the strength, expertise and preparation of what we know about the best of tradition. But without getting caught up in tradition. The ongoing transition is not only creative, but also industrial, informative and distributive. And if I have to draw a clear line and decide which side to take, I can say that at the moment, I’m more interested in the brave captains and pioneers than the trombones playing the funeral march for fashion and the end of creativity.

Alessandro Calascibetta, Director of Style Magazine – Corriere della Sera, Menswear Fashion Director of Io Donna, Sette, Sportweek,

Designers leaving and designers who are abruptly ousted. We don’t get to know how much of these divorces is “personal”. Temperamental fashion designers are not a legend, but there are also a great many CEOs and MDs that are cantankerous, opinionated and arrogant. And even worse: incompetent. Just think, it appears that during a meeting with his communications department, the MD of one major brand declared “journalists have very low salaries, they can’t afford to buy anything in our stores, so I don’t care about the press.” Just saying.

And then you see, today, following business and marketing logic before designing a collection is certainly an indicator of common sense, but everything has a limit. At the point where guidelines encroach too much on a creative director’s territory, the end result will be something in between what the designer would have done and what the particular CEO or MD imposes. It would be desirable for management to be more prepared regarding the matter. And above all, we must not forget that creativity needs TIME, it needs SPACE and FLEXIBILITY. 
Before we know it, we’ll see everything come to an abrupt halt and suddenly go back (or forward) to how it used to be. Remember Bergé / Saint Laurent? Galeotti / Armani? Strategy and creativity lived happily (or almost happily) side by side. To each his own job. There was discussion, there was debate, but the designer got to be the designer. But we’re talking about decades ago, you’ll say. And yet... look at Dolce & Gabbana and the Bertelli/Prada duo.

Serena Tibaldi, fashion editor of La Repubblica and D

I think that the phenomenon is closely connected with the disappearance of the “classic” fashion house, with a founder and a precise creative mind, and the domination of the big luxury conglomerates: designers have become employees, and as such are replaceable. What we are witnessing now, and what makes us think, is how the designers themselves have adopted a similar modus operandi, leaving positions at the top without too many qualms when the demands of the system become too pressing or are no longer in line with their way of thinking. With regards how beneficial this arrangement is, the topic has already been discussed at length without getting anywhere: and so, once we have determined that things aren’t going to change, we have to adapt to them. As a result, today, the average stay of a creative director is around four years, not really all that surprising: the life cycle has got shorter, that’s all. Whether that’s a good thing or not is another matter, but I think that, with a few exceptions, this is the new normal. And we’d better get used to it.