Now it’s the men’s turn.
After a series of designer shakeups at leading women’s fashion houses, Monday saw the men’s wear sector get the treatment as the European luxury brands Berluti and Brioni revealed changes, while Ermenegildo Zegna is said to be making a switch of its own.
The pending or immediate departures sparked a guessing game as to which designers might next take on three of the highest-profile roles in European men’s wear.
Berluti said Monday that designer Alessandro Sartori, who partnered with luxury scion Antoine Arnault to expand the elite cobbler into a lifestyle label, is to exit the Paris-based firm, controlled by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. His fall collection, paraded Jan. 22 at Les Arts Décoratifs during Paris Fashion Week, was his last for the label.
It is understood Sartori is departing after a five-year collaboration for a new opportunity, and speculation immediately centered around Zegna, which is said to be parting ways with its creative director Stefano Pilati. Sartori declined to comment beyond brief remarks in a press release.
“I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to develop this extraordinary company and to have created a silhouette for the Berluti man. I want to thank Antoine Arnault and Berluti for the trust they have put in me.”
“He is moving on. We decided this together,” Arnault told WWD, characterizing the parting as amicable. “We are remaining very good friends. Clearly, it’s the end of a chapter for us, and it was a beautiful one.”
Arnault noted that Berluti, which generated revenues south of 30 million euros when Sartori arrived in 2011, has added “more than 100 million euros [$109 million at current exchange]” to its tallies as it expanded its product offering and global store network.
Arnault said he would appoint a new artistic director in due course and wished Sartori “all the best. I know he’s going to be very successful in his future endeavors.”
The executive noted that Berluti “remains a shoe brand and shoes remain the biggest category for us, complemented by leather goods, accessories and ready-to-wear.”
Son of LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, Antoine Arnault assumed the management helm of Berluti in 2011 and set out to create a luxury men’s house to mirror such female-driven brands as Fendi and Céline within the vast luxury group. He also oversees the Loro Piana business, acquired in 2013.
At Berluti, Arnault acquired Arnys, a landmark Left Bank men’s wear boutique that came with a dozen skilled tailors, propelling Berluti into the bespoke business.
Sartori joined Berluti after eight years at the creative helm of Z Zegna, Ermenegildo Zegna’s more fashion-oriented brand that was launched in 2003. Born and raised in Biella, a mountain town in the northeastern corner of Italy famed for its wool production, Sartori joined Zegna in 1989 after graduating from design school in Milan.
It is that former relationship with Zegna that has stirred the speculation he could be headed back to the Italian men’s wear giant after Pilati departs. Pilati joined the Trivero, Italy-based Zegna in January 2013, tapped to add a fashion element to the collections. His departure would come on the heels of a confident fall collection presented in January that received high praise from retailers and that WWD defined “arresting” and “his best yet.” Sources say Pilati’s couture-like designs were often disconnected from Zegna’s core customer needs.
“It is our policy not to comment on rumors regarding individuals working at or with Zegna,” said a spokesman for the Italian men’s wear giant.
Pilati joined Zegna after exiting Yves Saint Laurent as creative director in March 2012. He was named creative director of Agnona, and head of design at Ermenegildo Zegna, with responsibility for that brand’s fashion show as well as for the Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection, the latter built on sartorial, hand-stitched suits in luxury fabrics. When Pilati in July left the women’s Agnona brand, controlled by Zegna, he was said to be pursuing other personal projects in women’s rtw.
The designer, a well-known and seasoned talent with a suave personal style and experience at big brands, has worked in senior design and fabric development positions for a number of Italian design houses, including Miu Miu, Prada and Giorgio Armani.
“I wish to express my gratitude and affection to all my design team and the craftsmen who have worked with me so passionately,” said Mullane, who joined the Roman men’s fashion house, which is owned by Kering, in July 2012. “I wish Brioni the future it deserves among the best luxury brands.”
“Brendan’s passion, vision and charisma always emerged through his work and we are very grateful for his dedicated commitment to the company,” said Brioni ceo Gianluca Flore.
According to the company, which said a new creative director will be appointed in “in due time,” the brand’s spring 2017 collection to be presented at Milan Men’s Fashion Week in June will be developed by an in-house design team.
Mullane was brought in by Kering to boost the profile of the storied brand, known for its impeccable tailoring. He previously was senior head men’s wear designer at Givenchy and also held men’s wear jobs at Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Alexander McQueen.
The designer immediately threw himself into the history of Brioni, working with its tailoring heritage while pushing it more into a lifestyle direction with more casualwear and accessories. His fall 2016 collection presented last month in Milan focused on performance with water-repellent yarns; tartan fabric for ski jackets; detachable fur hoods worn over lightweight wool and silk suits, and shiny leather hiking boots. But WWD wrote in its review that the attention to fabric research needed a more up-close-and-personal view and the details got lost on the runway.