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Storied fashion houses are ushering in a new era, with nascent talent at the helm thanks to the next generation of designers. A fresh wave of creative forces are stepping into the spotlight, steering the ship and reenergizing heritage labels, with many incorporating their personal creative perspective while maintain core design codes. The Spring/Summer 2023 season was designer Maximilian Davis‘ first for Ferragamo, while Marco de Vincenzo stepped up to the plate for Etro, Rhuigi Villaseñor took the lead at Bally and Ib Kamara followed Virgil Abloh at Off-White.
Davis presented his debut collection for the iconic Florentine fashion house Ferragamo during Milan Fashion Week in September 2022. The 27-year-old boy wonder’s first designs were shown just six months after the announcement of his appointment as creative director. He put his eponymous label that he launched with London- based incubator program Fashion East on hold. For Ferragamo, Davis implemented a color palette inspired by his Trinidadian roots. The British designer introduced contemporary silhouettes and developed new heat-reactive fabric that mimicked artist Rachel Harrison’s Sunset Series. Davis uses literature and music as a form of research when it comes to his designs, a technique he learned from former boss, Grace Wales Bonner.
Etro appointed designer de Vincenzo as its new creative director for women’s, men’s and home collections at the end of May 2022. With his debut collection de Vincenzo aimed to change the current perception of the brand. The designer stressed that “nobody will use hippie chic or bohemian to describe my first collection” and he emphasized, “Etro is thought of as a print brand, but that is wrong,” “Etro is a textiles brand.” His first presentation for the Italian luxury fashion house was unveiled during Milan Fashion Week with the womenswear Spring/Summer 2023 assortment, where Vincenzo imbued a whimsical element throughout jacquard fabrications, resplendent ombré hues, lace confections and statement-making separates.
One of the buzziest new appointments, founder of L.A.-based luxury streetwear label Rhude, Villaseñor showed his first designs for the 171-year-old Swiss heritage fashion house Bally with the Spring/ Summer 2023 collection last year. As Bally’s first creative director in five years, the Filipino designer brought a renewed opulence to the brand with sexy suiting, denim staples and slinky slips. The California-cool designer got people talking about Bally. It-girls walked the runway and the front row was filled with famous faces. Villaseñor’s gave Bally a new life with his fresh and exciting vision.
Kamara debuted his first collection since being named art and image director of Off-White in September 2022. Kamara frequently collaborated with founding designer, the late Virgil Abloh, making him the perfect person to continue the brand’s message and carry on Abloh’s immeasurable legacy. The show entitled, “CELEBRATION” boasted a maximalist aesthetic, with a vibrant cobalt blue sprinkled throughout inventive fabrications and unexpected silhouettes.
After Abloh’s death in November 2021, it also left his position as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton open to fill. In February, parent company LVMH announced that record producer, musician, entrepreneur and fashion icon Pharrell Williams would be stepping into the role. Williams’s debut collection will take place next June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.
Speaking of new appointments, Gucci surprised the industry in November, when it announced creative director Alessandro Michele would exit the brand after instating an epochal creative shift. This announcement caused a stir, Michele’s Gucci was wildly successful in pioneering the maximalism trend seen over the past few years. In January, Gucci’s parent company Kering revealed that designer Sabato de Sarno would take over the role and will make his runway debut with the Spring/ Summer 2024 during Milan Fashion Week in September of this year. All eyes will be on de Sarno to see what direction he takes the iconic house.
There’s even more to keep an eye on after British designer Louise Trotter was named creative director at the French heritage house Carven in February, less than two months after exiting Lacoste after her four-year tenure. Her first collection will be during the Spring/Summer 2024 season at Paris Fashion Week in September.
With so many changes to keep up with at beloved fashion brands, it’s never been a more thrilling time to see where the industry heads next. It is so important to implement change from the top down at these heritage fashion houses. Young talent like Maximilan Davis have so much to offer with their fresh perspective and new ideas. Going against the norm has proven to be successful, take Rhugi Villaseñor at Bally for example. An LA based streetwear designer was able to breathe new life into a 171-year-old fashion house creating new buzz and revival for the brand. Or Marco de Vincenzo at Etro, for the first time in history, Etro is no longer a family business. De Vincenzo brought a new vision to the storied house without losing the iconic elements that are so true to Etro. Change is good, change is necessary, and change is what’s going to keep this industry inspiring and exciting.
New For Fall:
British-American designer Harris Reed has been placed at the helm of 90-year-old Parisian fashion house Nina Ricci. The 26-year-old wunderkind is the youngest creative director for the brand and made his runway debut during the Fall/Winter 2023 season at Paris Fashion Week in March.
During London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2023, all eyes were on Burberry as the brand’s new chief creative officer Daniel Lee, who showed his first collection after Riccardo Tisci’s departure. He presented an ode to quintessentially British style, with eye-catching cold-weather garments and gear, from feathers and faux fur, to knit canteens, earmuffs and exaggerated trapper hats. He also used the iconic checks and plaid patterns Burberry is known for in bright colorways. Previously, Lee reenergized Bottega Veneta during his helm at the brand from 2018 to 2021.
Ludovic de Saint Sernin
Known for his sensual, genderless garments, Belgian designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin showcased his first collection for Ann Demeulemeester during Paris Fashion Week in March. Pulling from the brand’s extensive archives for inspiration, Sernin looked back on the trademark tenants of the house to bring it into the future.
Sabato de Sarno
After Gucci parted ways with creative director Alessandro Michele, it was announced that designer Sabato de Sarno will fill the role. He was previously the Fashion Director at Valentino after stints at Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. His first designs for Gucci will show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024
Less than two months after exiting Lacoste after her four-year tenure, the British designer was named creative director at French heritage house Carven in February. Her first collection will be presented during the Spring/Summer 2024 season at Paris Fashion Week.
In February, it was announced that music mogul and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams would be taking over as Louis Vuitton’s creative director of menswear following Virgil Abloh. Williams’s debut collection will take place next June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.
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