The Vine

Where have all the designers gone?

Left to right: Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi; Hannah MacGibbon; and Christophe Decarnin.

It seems that the fashion world has a higher turnover than Starbucks. Since Galliano was dropped from Dior in March, the continual hiring and firing at luxury brands have been throwing Louboutin-shod fashionistas into a tailspin.

After Galliano, Pringle of Scotland announced that creative director Clare Waight Keller was leaving the brand for personal reasons. Then we bid farewell to excess at Balmain when designer Christophe Decarnin made a hasty exit (maybe women just got sick of paying extortionate prices to look like blinged out prostitutes). Gianfranco Ferré’s new owners recently fired creative directors Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi.

And while Galliano may have completed his stint at rehab, he was still ousted from his namesake label last week. We were expecting Chloe’s Hannah MacGibbon to follow suit but her contract was extended for another year – not two, mind you.

With so many vacancies, I can’t help but wonder if there is anyone left to step in. More importantly, will they have the chops to handle it? Being a “creative director” in the 21st century is like living in a pressure cooker with way too many responsibilities. It’s only a matter of time before everything explodes. Alexander McQueen was a prime example – he was a genius with incredible talent, yet in the end it got to him.

All these recent events also seem to indicate the dawn of a new era in fashion. First and foremost, the days of the celebrity designer are over. Although Galliano is a genius in his own right, handling him wasn’t always easy. The damage the scandal has done to the house also proves that having a designer so closely associated with a brand isn’t necessarily a good thing. At end of the day the mission is to sell the clothes, not to create headlines for all the wrong reasons.

As such it is likely that brands will start hiring lesser known names or look internally to fill the gaps. While rumours are still rife about Riccardo Tisci taking over at Dior, Arnault has happily handed the reins over to Dior’s design teams for the interim.  The current creative directors at Valentino and Chloe were hired in-house and seem to be doing a solid job. Balmain is hoping that Olivier Rousteing, who worked with Decarnin for three years, will also do the trick.

So while we may have larger than life names like Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld for now, who knows how long they can play the game.

One Response to Where have all the designers gone?

  1. al says:

    It’s such a conundrum, isn’t it. All the world and his football wife wants to be a designer; so do models/supermodels who hope to still squeeze some cash and relevance out of fading careers.
    In the meantime, there’s a shortage of REAL talent in the frock business! There’s only so much bling-bling or boring beige or archival redux that a designer can do before the spell is broken.
    But Mr Arnault shouldn’t bank his company on design by committee – it didn’t help Chloe very much after Phoebe Philo.
    And we still want celebrity designers who can deliver some crunchy soundbites and museum-worthy couture collections.
    The world needs some magic – cheesey or classy, POV – as Will and Kate’s wedding proves.

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