The Key Takeaways From Fashion Month 2023

From all the comings and goings at the big luxury houses to fashion’s diversity issue, these are top news to know from the Spring/Summer 2024 shows.

From high hopes at Gucci to the big fashion players’ lack of presence at Climate Week, we take a look back at some of the key news stories to come out from fashion month.

Gucci’s Reinvention 

Sabato de Sarno brought a starkly minimal aesthetic to Gucci for his debut collection. Credit: Gucci

Gucci’s shares rose by four per cent following new Creative Director Sabato de Sarno’s runway debut at Milan Fashion Week in September. 

De Sarno’s “Ancora” collection was filled with sharp-cut blazers, micro shorts and long wool overcoats, showcasing a starkly different minimal aesthetic compared to Gucci’s former creative director Alessandro Michele’s flamboyant vision. 

De Sarno’s appointment at the luxury house may just be able to bring investor confidence back to the Kering-owned Gucci which is in need of a stronger market position after falling behind competitors LVMH and Hermès in recent years. 

In July, Kering’s shares went up more than six per cent amid a major management reshuffle as Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzari announced he will be stepping down from the position in September (on the same day as de Sarno’s debut in Milan). 

Kering has since named Jean-François Palus, the right-hand man of Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault, as Gucci’s new CEO and president on a temporary basis. No doubt, all eyes will be on Gucci’s new creative director as de Sarno takes on the task of reviving the storied Italian brand. 

Key Departures and New Hires 

Fashion month saw some key departures including Prada and Miu Miu design director Fabio Zambernardi who stepped down from his role amid a major restructuring at Prada. Meanwhile, after months of speculation, Gabriela Hearst staged her final show as creative director for Chloé at Paris Fashion Week. 

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Creative director Sarah Burton dedicated her final outing at the house in memory of its founder Lee. Credit: Alexander McQueen

Another departure was long-time Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton who dedicated her final outing at the house in memory of its founder, Lee. Burton steered the design team since the death of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010. 

Kering, which owns Alexander McQueen has since announced Dublin designer Seán McGirr (previously head of ready-to-wear at J.W Anderson) as its new creative director. The luxury conglomerate had been seeking to shake up its business on all fronts in an attempt to catch up with its competitors, but the news of McGirr’s appointment has resulted in an altogether different issue for Kering…

The Diversity Problem 

Soon after Seán McGirr’s appointment as creative director at Alexander McQueen was announced, Kering faced social media backlash as netizens highlighted the lack of racial and gender diversity in the group’s top creative positions. 

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Kering taps Seán McGirr as the new creative director at Alexander McQueen. Credit: Kering/ Alexander McQueen

Racial and gender diversity in high-ranking creative roles has long been an issue of debate in the fashion industry. 

Despite recent high-profile hires such as Pharell Williams at LVMH, who was appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear after the passing of Virgil Abloh, the first African-American artistic director at a French luxury house, critics are quick to point out the lack of diversity at top positions among the major luxury groups. 

This is particularly obvious at Kering, where industry insiders have voiced out their concern on how none of the legacy brands under the conglomerate—McQueen, Gucci, Balenciaga, Brioni, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta—are led by people of colour, and after Burton’s departure at McQueen, none currently are helmed by women. 

Fashion’s Climate Impact 

Soon after New York Fashion Week wrapped up, over 70,000 people marched on the streets of Manhattan on September 17th for Climate Week. It wasn’t long before critics took notice of how none of the big fashion houses took part in raising awareness of the ongoing climate emergency.

For an industry that stands as a vulnerable player should the effects of climate change threaten supply chains and regulatory frameworks, the little to zero presence of fashion’s biggest players at the world’s largest climate confab has raised doubts if the big fashion players are doing their bid to address the climate crisis, which in turn, could sooner or later pose a major business risk for all those involved. 

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