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Annual review: The musical chairs of creative directors in 2022

By Marthe Stroom



Photo Credits: Designer Alessandro Michele at the finale of the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week in September 2022. Gucci, official Facebook page.

2022 was a tumultuous year when it came to the creative leadership of fashion brands. Did you lose track of who moved where along the way? FashionUnited listed the developments of the past year.

January - Liisa Kessler welcomed at Filippa K, Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter step down at Nina Ricci

It is barely 2022 when Filippa K named successor Liisa Kessler after the brand’s founder and namesake Filippa Knutsson stepped down in 2019. Kessler previously worked at leading fashion houses in Paris – first at Chloé under Clare Waight Keller and later for Y/Project and Lanvin. At Saint Laurent, she worked for five years as senior designer for show collections. Kessler's appointment will "mark a noticeable shift in creative direction" the Swedish company wrote in a press release.

Image: Liisa Kessler, courtesy Filippa K

On the last day of the month, it was announced that Dutch Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter are stepping down as creative directors of Nina Ricci. The creative duo and designers behind fashion brand Botter felt that after 3.5 years at Nina Ricci, it was "the right time to put all their attention on Botter to take it to the next level".

February - Tremaine Emory appointed at Supreme, Marco Falcioni starts at Hugo Boss AG

In February, Tremaine Emory, founder of the Denim Tears brand, was appointed the new creative director at Supreme. At his own brand, Emory highlights African-American storytelling from cultural and political perspectives, often through collaborations. Supreme is also known for its many successful collaborations. Tremory has continued to design for Denim Tears alongside his new role at Supreme.

Photo Credits: Tremaine Emory. Denim Tears, archive photograph.

Two weeks later, following the introduction of the new brand identities of the Hugo and Boss brands, Hugo Boss AG shook up the company's creative leadership by appointing Marco Falcioni as senior vice president creative direction. Falcioni's predecessor, Ingo Wilts, stepped down due to personal reasons.

Falcioni has been working for Hugo Boss AG since 2015 so is certainly no stranger to the company. Among other things, he was responsible for the design of the company's first NFT items.

That same day, French footwear brand Charles Jourdan snared Christelle Kocher as creative director. Kocher takes up the position in addition to the creative direction she already gives to Koché and Lemarié. Charles Jourdan had asked her to engineer a comeback by better appealing to millennials and Gen Z'ers, a challenge Kocher said she could not resist.

March - Alasdhair Willis at Adidas, Salvatore Ferragamo appoints Maximilian Davis, Darren McKoy joins Dr Martens

March began with the announcement of a new creative director for Adidas: Alasdhair Willis. Willis took up the position in April and was no stranger to the sportswear brand. For example, he was previously involved in the development of the Adidas by Stella McCartney collaboration. In addition, Willis has also been creative director at British fashion brand Hunter. He additionally co-founded Wallpaper Magazine.

It also became clear that day that Superdry's creative director, Phil Dickinson, will be leaving the brand after three years. With this, the design of Superdry products will be continued by an in-house team. Superdry's statement did not elaborate on the reasons for Dickinson's departure, but fashion trade magazine Drapers reported that it is because Superdry's 'reset' had been completed.

Later in March, Salvatore Ferragamo appointed Maximilian Davis as its new creative director . Davis succeeded Paul Andrew, who stepped down back in 2021. At the time, it was reported that the design of the collections would be taken over by an in-house design team. Davis studied at the London College of Fashion and founded his own brand in 2020, which immediately attracted international attention. The designer draws inspiration from his Trinidadian and Jamaican heritage. Salvatore Ferragamo describes his design vision as "sharply elegant, sophisticated, sense of colour and cultural hybrid".

Image: Salvatore Ferragamo, Maximilian Davis/Photo by: Lee Whittaker

A few days later, it emerged that Filippo Grazioli will become Missoni's new creative director. Last year, Missoni’s Angela Missoni left as the company's creative director. The job was then temporarily taken over by Alberto Caliri. Caliri switched to the fashion house's interior design collection on Grazioli’s appointment. Grazioli previously worked at Martin Margiela, Givenchy, Burberry and Hermès.

At the end of March, Dr Martens also appointed a new creative director: Darren McKoy. McKoy was relatively unknown at that point. While the brand did not share any background information about the new creative director, an online search for McKoy also did not yield much either. However, McKoy did state in the press release about the appointment that he wanted to keep innovating but, in doing so, stay true to Dr Martens' heritage and history.

May - Kamara takes on Off-White, Another Tomorrow appoints Elizabeth Giardina, Marco De Vincenzo joins Etro

In early May, it became clear that British journalist and stylist Ibrahim Kamara will take over the creative leadership of Off-White from the brand's founder Virgil Abloh, who died in November 2021. Kamara was in close contact with Off-White and Abloh for the three years prior to his appointment. Kamara did the styling for Off-White's shows on several occasions, in addition to his work for various fashion magazines, including the editor-in-chief of Dazed.

Image: Ibrahim Kamara

Following Abloh's death, a new artistic director for the brand was not immediately appointed. However, according to Off-White CEO Andrea Grilli, a "collective of creative minds" was maintained "who represented the best in their field". Kamara will join this group.

Elizabeth Giardina further snapped up the creative leadership position at US fashion brand Another Tomorrow, after more than 19 years of experience at various fashion brands, including Proenza Schouler, Derek Lam 10 Crosby and Halston.

At Corneliani, the former creative director of Roberto Cavalli, Paul Surridge, was hired for the position. The Brit is to help with the brand's relaunch and repositioning. Surridge stepped down as creative director at Roberto Cavalli in 2019. Before that, he worked at Z Zegna, Jil Sander, Calvin Klein and Burberry, among others.

At the end of May, Marco De Vincenzo was appointed the new creative director of Italian luxury fashion house Etro. His predecessors, Veronica, Kean and Jacopo Etro, would remain involved in the brand's development, according to a press release. De Vincenzo studied at the European Institute of Design in Rome and then worked for Fendi for many years. In 2009, he launched his own ready-to-wear label.

July - Matt Lambert to Nike, Ken Downing fills new role at Halston and United Colors of Benetton appoints Italian Andrea Incontri

July, like March, was a busy month when it came to news in the world of creative directors. On 14 July, it became clear that a former Nike employee, Matt Lambert, will take up the role at Dickies. Lambert previously spent over eight years in various roles at Nike, where he helped develop collaborations with names such as Comme des Garçons, Tom Sachs, and Virgil Abloh, among others. Upon his appointment, Lambert shared his plans to capitalise on growth potential outside America. Skate culture will also play a big role for Lambert, he indicated to WWD: "Skate is high energy for us, we have a fantastic internal team managing our skateboarding portfolio."

Later in July, Xcel Brands appointed Ken Downing as creative director of luxury fashion brand Halston. In his new role, Downing would not only be in charge of Halston's creative direction, but would also become the face and voice of the brand, including hosting Halston livestream sessions. Downing previously worked as senior vice president and fashion director for department store Neiman Marcus and was chief creative officer of international retail developer Triple Five Group Worldwide.

Image: Andrea Incontri | Credit: Benetton

Finally, in July, Italian Andrea Incontri would become United Colors of Benetton's new creative director . This put Incontri in charge of the brand's women's, men's and children's collections. Incontri has his own eponymous fashion brand, and also worked for a time as creative director for shoe label Tod's. Benetton chose Incontri because of his ability to "establish a dialogue between creativity and the market," the company stated in the press release announcing the news of his appointment.

September - Harris Reed youngest creative director to date at Nina Ricci

One of the bigger news topics of September was that Harris Reed would follow in the footsteps of Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter at Nina Ricci. Indeed, 26-year-old Harris Reed is the youngest designer yet to hold the position of creative director at the brand founded in 1932. It was only in 2020 that he graduated from London's Central Saint Martins art school.

Since then, Reed has built a reputation for his theatrical fashion moments. His designs have been worn in the past by the likes of Alessandro Michele, Emma Watson, Harry Styles and Lil Nas X. The designer is expected to unveil his first Ricci collection in early 2023, offering "new perspectives on the house's archives and lifelong craftsmanship", the press release stated at the time. Reed, known as a pioneer for gender fluid fashion, is expected to focus on gender-neutral designs in the process, as Botter did. "I am excited to challenge the landscape of what femininity means in fashion and beauty in such an iconic house," Reed said.

Image: Harris Reed | Credit: Nina Ricci

A few days later, Kate Spade appointed two "industry veterans" as new head designers: Tom Mora and Jennifer Lyu. Mora focuses on ready-to-wear, footwear, jewellery, interiors and lifestyle categories, while Lyu is in charge of designing the brand's handbags and accessories collections.

Both Mora and Lyu had been with Kate Spade for some time, with further 30 and 25 years of experience, respectively. Mora worked as creative director at Cole Haan and prior to that was employed by Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and J.Crew. He pursued his studies at Parsons School of Design. Prior to her time at Kate Spade, Lyu held senior design positions at Tory Burch, Phillip Lim, Emilio Pucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

September rises in significance when Riccardo Tisci announces at the end of the month, just days after a successful London Fashion Week show, that he is leaving Burberry. Daniel Lee, former creative director of Bottega Veneta, is set to follow in his footsteps, Burberry explained in a press release.

Both Tisci and Lee are praised for their ability to breathe new creative life into a brand: Tisci at Burberry, and Lee at Céline and Bottega Veneta. Lee also brought into his new role experience from Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan. It remains to be seen what Tisci's next plans are. Lee will present his first collection for the brand at London Fashion Week in February 2023.

October - Zoe Turner leaves St John Knits

October seemed to be a quiet month regarding creative directors, but towards the end of the period a realignment was made after all. St. John Knits' creative director, Zoe Turner, left the brand. As a result, the label is currently without a creative director. What the reason for her departure was remains unclear. However, Turner's first collection, unveiled after she entered her post in 2019, did appear at an awkward time for fashion retail, namely in the middle of the pandemic. In doing so, the British designer's more contemporary collections did not fit with St. John's store concept in all respects, according to WWD.

Turner gave the mostly classic label a facelift by introducing hip oversized silhouettes and sleek bodysuits, among other things. Before her time at St. John Knits, Turner had worked for the likes of Dior, Raf Simons and Max Mara.

November - Alessandro Michele to exit Gucci

November seemed to be a quiet month in the world of creative leadership, until speculation came out that Alessandro Michele would be leaving Gucci. Just hours later, the news was officially confirmed with a statement from Kering . Michele was part of the fashion house for 20 years, including eight years as creative director. To this day, it is still not certain who will succeed Michele. For now, Gucci's design department will determine the "direction of the house".

Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele is stepping down. Image: Gucci AW2020 via Catwalkpictures

Michele's departure provoked much reaction in social and traditional media, particularly because of the large and valued influence Michele had on the brand. Upon his appointment in 2015, Michele introduced an entirely new quirky and androgynous style for the label.

This new aesthetic also brought about a financial turnaround. But, a month before his resignation, Kering reported that Gucci continued to underperform against the group's other brands. Although not officially stated, a source who wished to remain anonymous shared with WWD that Michele was "asked by the house management to initiate a strong design shift" to boost the brand, but that he did not comply with the request. Another source shared that François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci's parent company Kering, is looking for a new direction for the brand.

December - Ludovic de Saint Sernin creative director of Ann Demeulemeester, role reinstated since 2020 for the first time

On the first day of December, Ann Demeulemeester appointed Ludovic de Saint Sernin as creative director , after the position had been unfilled since 2020. Ann Demeulemeester's collections have been designed by a team within the fashion house since July 2020. Creative director Sébastien Meanier left in July 2020, after which no replacement was appointed. Not much later, it was announced that founder and former creative director Ann Demeulemeester herself returned, but this time only as an advisor.

Ludovic de Saint Sernin is already known for his own eponymous fashion label, which is characterised by sensuality and sexuality. De Saint Sernin designs without a specific gender in mind, allowing his items to be worn by all genders.

The first collection by De Saint Sernin's hand will be shown at Paris Fashion Week in March 2023. Again, "sensuality, tension, fluidity and wildness" will be defining pillars that will ultimately shape Ann Demeulemeester's new creative direction. De Saint Sernin will apply his approach to fashion here "as a tool to shape and liberate one's presence and appearance," according to the statement.

This article originally appeared onFashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.