By  on March 9, 2009

PARIS — If you’re a talent-laden designer with a buzzed-about signature collection, could a major job at a big fashion house be only a phone call from a headhunter away?

Au contraire. Devoted creative directors are the industry’s preference du jour, threatening to send the double-duty-designer model to the scrap heap of fashion history.


“At the core of this business, we must have — as much as we can — full dedication,” said Pierre-Yves Roussel, chief executive officer of the fashion division at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which includes brands such as Celine, Loewe, Givenchy and Emilio Pucci. “Regardless of the talent, the amount of time you spend on things becomes critical. There’s so much work to be done.”

“For a brand to have a fully devoted creative director, it is a great advantage because he or she can become part of the brand DNA,” agreed Robert Polet, president and ceo of Gucci Group. “Five years ago, we decided to give every brand a creative director and that was one of the best decisions we made.”

Executives, headhunters and consultants agreed Tom Ford’s exit in 2003 as Gucci Group’s creative director, where he oversaw both the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent brands, was a decisive moment that foreshadowed the dedicated designer business model.

More recently, a long list of designers have mothballed their signature collections to focus on heritage brands, among them Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, Kim Jones for Dunhill, Esteban Cortazar for Emanuel Ungaro and Stuart Vevers for Mulberry — and now Loewe, which showed Saturday. Olivier Theyskens, who is expected to exit Nina Ricci before his contract expires in October, had also put his label on hiatus — but may seek to resurrect it, as reported.

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