By Luisa Zargani
with contributions from Samantha Conti
 on September 30, 2020
Riccardo Tisci

MILAN — Riccardo Tisci is not on his way out the door at Burberry — and he’s not going to Versace either.

Reached by WWD, Donatella Versace firmly denied speculation here that Tisci was joining the Italian company, which is owned by Capri Holdings Ltd.

Burberry said it does not comment on speculation.

Donatella Versace’s denial is all the more powerful given her history with Tisci. Three years ago, before joining Burberry, Tisci looked set to join Versace, but it never happened. At the time he was a free agent, having exited Givenchy earlier in 2017 after a successful, 12-year run.

It was never clear at the time how Tisci would have worked with Donatella Versace — unless perhaps the two were going to hammer out a deal similar to what Miuccia Prada is doing now, sharing the co-creative director’s role with Raf Simons.

The first time around, Donatella Versace had repeatedly deflected questions about Tisci’s potential arrival at the family company.

Versace also had different owners three years ago when Blackstone Group held a 20 percent stake in the Italian house.

In 2017, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. acquired Versace for $2.1 billion, and changed the group’s name to Capri Holdings. Donatella Versace has continued to design the brand that bears her family name, launching successful collections over the past few seasons, including the Tribute collection that paid homage to her late brother, Gianni Versace, in 2017.

Earlier this month John D. Idol, Capri Holdings Ltd.’s chairman and chief executive officer, touted Versace as one of the group’s best assets at Goldman Sachs’ Annual Global Retailing Conference.

“We have a company, a brand and a luxury house, led by one of its original founders, Donatella [Versace], that has such an important message and voice in the fashion business, that we’ll be able to accelerate that, really with a laser focus. And we are going to really make sure that we are one of the competitors in the luxury space,” Idol said at the conference.

Market rumors in the U.K. and on the Continent had Tisci revealing his departure from Burberry as early as October. It would have been a surprising development given that he’s understood to be under a long-term contract with the British house.

Burberry’s ceo Marco Gobbetti tapped the Italian designer to succeed Christopher Bailey as chief creative officer in March 2018. Gobbetti and Tisci previously worked closely together at Givenchy, delivering commercial success across all categories.

Until January, Burberry had been on a growth trajectory with Tisci despite the strife in Hong Kong and the brewing coronavirus problems in mainland China. As reported, Burberry had even raised its revenue guidance, saying it expected full-year revenue to grow by a low-single-digit percentage at constant exchange, compared to previous guidance of “broadly stable.”

In mid-January, before the spread of COVID-19 began to infect international markets, Burberry’s share price hit a high of 23.29 pounds. On Tuesday, the shares closed at 15.92 pounds.

The arrival of COVID-19 put an end to that growth trajectory. Burberry was forced to restrategize, set layoffs and salary cuts. Sales began to recover in June thanks to a powerful rebound in the key markets of mainland China and South Korea, and in the sales of leather goods.

While reviews of Tisci’s collections have been generally positive, his B Series of branded streetwear drops, on the 17th of every month, have been a hit especially among young consumers in Asia.

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