Valentino must beware becoming Gucci 2.0

blog image

Valentino must beware: Following Pierpaolo Piccioli’s recent resignation, Alessandro Michele, the former creative director of Gucci, has been named top designer at Valentino, a fashion business partly owned by Kering SA.

Valentino, owned by Mayhoola of Qatar, stands to benefit much from this choice, which also serves to emphasise the deepening relationship between the two Italian labels. After Michele left Gucci, Sabato De Sarno joined from Valentino, further muddying the waters between the two fashion houses. If Kering and Valentino want this shift to work, they’ll need to figure out what went wrong when Gucci went from being a fashion icon to losing its magic.

The significance of Michele to Gucci is immeasurable. His “Granny Chic” collections have been reshaping the label since 2015 with its maximalist aesthetics, cat-themed sweaters, and daring patterns. Michele increased revenue from less than €4 billion in 2015 to €10.5 billion in 2022, a feat achieved in collaboration with former Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri.

Under Piccioli’s leadership, the haute couture house of Valentino has successfully transitioned from traditional to contemporary, with pieces like V-logoed purses and studded shoes being particularly noteworthy. Given Valentino’s history of working with Gucci alum Jacopo Venturini, Michele’s style seems tailor-made to harmonise with the brand’s image.

With Michele’s new outlook and roster of celebrity sponsorships, Valentino promises to be more visible as consumer tastes move away from subtle luxury. To avoid being seen as just another Gucci knockoff, it is important that Michele’s designs capture Valentino’s own style and personality.

To top it all off, Kering has to strike a balance between Gucci’s hegemony and Valentino’s prospective success. Strategic management may be required if Valentino’s comeback unintentionally eats into Gucci’s market share.

Under De Sarno’s leadership, Kering has adopted a more minimalist aesthetic, which has garnered both praise and criticism, in response to Michele’s exit from Gucci and shifting customer feelings and economic difficulties.

Taking a page out of the industry’s successful co-creative directorship playbook, an unexpected approach may be to assign Piccioli to Gucci alongside De Sarno. This would breathe new life into both companies.

As shown on his runway with identical twins, Michele is known for his unusual presentations, so maybe it’s a good idea to embrace duality. Valentino must embrace innovation while keeping its tradition if it wants to succeed in this new era.

Emily Mitchell

Emily's passion for fashion journalism and her keen eye for runway trends make her the ultimate source for the latest fashion news and exclusive insights into the glamorous world of catwalks.

Read more