7. Rise of the Unknown
When Frida Giannini stepped down as creative director at Gucci five days before her fall ’15 menswear show in January, her then unknown deputy, Alessandro Michele, shocked the fashion world by scrapping her ready-to-go plans in favour of a drastically different vision for the luxury label. What came down the runway was the biggest brand redo in recent memory—in place of Giannini’s jet-set alpha males in sharply tailored suits were floppy-haired weirdos in pussy-bow blouses. A few days later, Gucci put a ring on it, officially making Michele creative director and opening the door to his luxe magpie muse, who we’d meet a month later at the fall ’15 show (see above). Michele’s appointment ushered in a year in which unknown upstarts would beat out big-name designers for fashion’s top jobs. In February, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski (formerly of The Row) presented her debut collection for Hermès; in July, Johnny Coca (former accessories designer at Céline) took the helm at Mulberry; and in October, Balenciaga announced Vetements’ buzzy but mysterious Demna Gvasalia as its new artistic director. And now, with fresh vacancies at Dior and Lanvin, all eyes are on the second-in-commands.