Marco Bizzarri

I DID IT MY WAY: “It was extreme luck,” said a relaxed Marco Bizzarri, president and chief executive officer of Gucci, of tapping Alessandro Michele as creative director of the brand almost four years ago.

A week after Gucci reported a 35.1 percent jump in organic sales to 2.1 billion euros in the third quarter, Bizzarri went over the stages of the remarkable trajectory of the brand under his lead and that of Michele during Altagamma’s first Next Design Perspectives event in Milan on Tuesday. “It was the first time I had the opportunity to choose the designer to work with,” said Bizzarri, recalling his first meeting with Michele at his home in Rome, surrounded by antiques and wearing his fur loafers, which he designed for himself and which would become best-selling and trend-setting items globally.

“The personal connection is as important as talent, and it was more an emotional rather than a rational choice; he was aligned with me,” said the executive, pointing to Michele’s different vision for Gucci from what had been done in the past. “I would love to say it was a formula, but there is a huge dose of luck, I did it my way and it was the right moment,” added Bizzarri, who underscored the need to avoid taking oneself too seriously as this could crimp creativity. “We don’t save lives, we didn’t invent penicillin,” he said, urging a certain dose of lightness and inclusive, not exclusive luxury.

That said, he returned serious about the goal to reach 10 billion euros in sales, first presented in June. “It’s reachable, we are getting close,” he said.

“We wanted to create a culture of respect and joy, fostering creativity.” Asked by Tony Chambers, creative consultant, founder of Studio TC & Friends and former creative director and editor in chief of Wallpaper, if Michele was also interested in financials, Bizzarri said he had “stopped presenting numbers” to the designer, who does have a business mind, he noted. “We never thought of asking consumers, or focus groups, we did what we liked. It has to make sense to us, if not, it’s just a marketing strategy.”

The biggest challenge, given the pace the world is changing at, is to stand still and believe that “yesterday’s success can be that of tomorrow. That is wrong.” Bizzarri also said, “You can’t look at fashion only, that’s narrow minded. There are no boundaries — it’s movies, charities.…We have to empower talents, we cannot always tell people what to do and there’s no limits to growth if you are exposed to innovation.”