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Feb 01, 2023

The future of Gucci under Sabato De Sarno

It was perhaps a predetermined moment, deliberately created to shake up the fashion industry while allowing the protagonist of this story to quietly continue his daily tasks as fashion director at Valentino. Until now. Sharing a press release last Saturday morning, Gucci made official the new appointment of Sabato De Sarno to the role of creative director. He will replace Alessandro Michele, who a few months ago surprisingly ended his extraordinary ten-year run as number one of the Kering group’s Florentine brand after “leading a stellar renaissance at the brand by aligning it with the inclusive values and main-character energy of Gen Z,” stated The Guardian.

Sabato De Sarno appointed Creative Director of Gucci (Photo Riccardo Raspa)

Sabato De Sarno appointed Creative Director of Gucci (Photo Riccardo Raspa)

“I am deeply honoured to take on the role of creative director of Gucci,” said Sabato De Sarno. “I am proud to join a house with such an extraordinary history and heritage that over the years has been able to welcome and cherish values I believe in. I am touched and excited to contribute my creative vision for the brand.”

Sabato De Sarno will lead Gucci’s Design Studio reporting to Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci, with the responsibility for defining and expressing the house’s creative vision across the women’s, men’s, leather goods, accessories and lifestyle collections. So, the brand’s vision will be seen through the eyes of a talent familiar with challenges and ready to remix the label’s existing lexicon with a new idea of contemporary – maybe more classic – luxury while reinvigorating fashion excitement and respecting the desirability of the collections that will be shown on the catwalk.

However, we must wait until September 2023 for Sabato De Sarno’s debut at Gucci to finally see a ‘new’ wardrobe for spring-summer 2024 on the catwalk at Milan Women’s Fashion Week, which won’t fail to provide the feeling of being in front of an authentic tribute to Italianness.

A Gucci store

A Gucci store

Sometimes the most coveted roles are also the most insidious and feared, such as that of Creative Director, where one usually expects to see established and well-known names in the fashion system. The Gucci case is different. Although insiders had suggested a list full of high-profile names, the French luxury group Kering didn’t opt for an all-star designer but promoted one unknown to the fashion-consuming public, who had never been in the role of “creative director.” With a series of out-of-the-box choices that have pushed brands in their portfolio out of their comfort zone, Kering has definitively changed the pattern of arrivals and departures that saw the same designers move from one fashion house to another for years. But today, things are different: while Alessandro Michele was fished out of the Gucci team, De Sarno is an outsider to the brand. This might be a risky move even for Kering. But the French group always does its maths well.


Who is Sabato De Sarno, Gucci’s new creative director to replace Alessandro Michele

Born in Naples in 1984, Sabato De Sarno has always shown a desire to express what burned in his heart. His well-established career in ready-to-wear began in 2005 when he joined Prada; he then moved on to Dolce&Gabbana as head designer of the knitwear and jersey department before becoming the right-hand man of Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli – the most acclaimed designer of the moment – in 2009.

Mr De Sarno has an impressive CV, especially for his roles at Valentino, where he held positions of increasing responsibility that culminated in his appointment as fashion director to oversee the brand’s men’s and women’s collections. Of course, Sabato De Sarno had a key role during his 13 years working alongside Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, helping the house grow from a symbol of old-world elegance to one of the most vibrant and active players in the fashion system and even on social media.

Perhaps De Sarno’s all-round expertise has won over Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s CEO, who expressed his esteem for him and his method. De Sarno has “vast and relevant experience”, said Bizzarri. “He will lead our creative teams with a distinctive vision to help write this exciting next chapter, reinforcing the house’s fashion authority while capitalising on its rich heritage.”

Sabato De Sarno’s appointment as Gucci’s new creative director should give pause for thought. “Gucci remains one of the most iconic, prominent and influential luxury houses in the world,” Kering chairman François-Henri Pinault said. “With Sabato De Sarno at the creative helm, we are confident that the house will continue both to influence fashion and culture through highly desirable products and collections and to bring a singular and contemporary perspective to modern luxury.”

The announcement confirms Gucci’s commitment to supporting Italian designers, who may be unknown to the general public but have an impressive resume and long experience in Italian fashion, having grown alongside some of the Maison’s most outstanding creative directors, such as Alessandro Michele.

Proving that passion, dedication and determination are key to earning experience and a role in fashion, Sabato De Sarno is expected to find his own language to engage with the new generations, embracing their expectations, priorities and fantasies without eclipsing Gucci’s history. In a nutshell, the aesthetic defined by Gucci to foster gender fluidity and diversity as its values, mixed with the thrill of provocation, will have to be emphasised in a new way while staying true to the same values De Sarno believes in.



Agnese Pasquinelli
Fashion Business, Digital Communication & Media student, 2nd year, Milan