Fashion's game of musical chairs hasn't exactly ended since the last major round in 2016. This was the same year that gave us Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, the hiring and firing of Justin O'Shea at Brioni, and Haider Ackermann as artistic director at Berluti. Ackermann, in fact, has ended his short run with Berluti this year and has been replaced with Dior Homme alumnus Kris Van Assche, who's position was taken over by Kim Jones, who was succeeded by Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. Confused? Well, we can't keep track of the changes too sometimes.
You can't exactly blame fashion houses on the (almost) constant changes in creative directors. Luxury fashion as we've known it, has evolved over the years. A changing roster of creatives is a way for fashion houses to reinvigorate their lineup, especially at a time where gaining new demographics while retaining existing ones, can be quite a feat. It's sort of like dating without ever wanting to completely settle down—fashion houses look for the best people to steer them in a new direction for the foreseeable moment, evolve and grow as partners, and then split ways once the relationship plateaus and gets too comfortable.
But amidst the going ins and outs, we seem to have forgotten three favoured fashion designers that have yet to make a fashion house their new temporary home. This is a public service announcement: someone out there needs to hire them again.
Even if you're not familiar with Alber Elbaz's work, his personal style is instantly recognisable. The lovable Moroccan-born designer is almost never seen without his signature thick-rimmed oblong glasses and his penchant for big bow ties. His poetic designs for Lanvin were favoured by many, and almost every collection throughout his 14-year career at the house were very well-received. Based on interviews Elbaz gave, the decision to dismiss the designer in 2015 was spearheaded by Shaw-Lan Wang, the Taiwanese mogul who owns a majority stake in Lanvin. While the fashion house was already experiencing declining sales towards the end of Elbaz's tenure, the situation has yet to improve based on sales reports released.
Available since: October 2015
Succeeded by: Couturier Bouchra Jarrar took over for 16 months before handing it over to Olivier Lapidus, who lasted for eight months. An in-house design team is currently taking charge of the women's department at Lanvin.
Projects since: Elbaz has been relatively quiet since his departure from Lanvin. But as of 15 August 2018, he has collaborated with LeSportsac on a series of nylon bags and accessories, already available online and will be launched in stores worldwide in September 2018.
Alessandro Sartori is creating a whole new style vocabulary for Ermenegildo Zegna Couture; sportswear inspired pieces rooted in easy, modern tailoring. Yet, it's the languid and relaxed silhouettes championed by Stefano Pilati during his time at Zegna that made an impact in fashion. Pilati joined in late 2012 and spearheaded the 'Couture' line—a more fashion-forward division of Ermenegildo Zegna—with the first collection shown for spring/summer 2014. For a brand that's also one of the world's top fabric producers, this made Zegna stand out even more and truly became a fashion force in its own right. Both Zegna and Pilati ended the partnership amicably with Pilati stating that, "we have reached the conclusion that the mission he (Gildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna) entrusted me with had been fulfilled".
Available since: February 2016
Succeeded by: Alessandro Sartori, who last designed for Z Zegna in 2011 before joining Berluti.
Projects since: Pilati has been focusing on his own artistic projects since leaving Zegna. He joined Instagram on 15 May 2017 and has been putting up artistic images, treating the social media platform as a moodboard of sorts. He also styled an 18-page editorial for 032c shortly after. He teased a new project called 'Random Identities' on Instagram, releasing 17 looks via the 24-hour Stories function. The looks were all black and "genderless and seasonless" in concept but were not available for sale. Or at least, not until further notice.
This is a bit of a stretch seeing how Phoebe Philo only left Céline in December 2017. But the thought of Céline without Philo is almost unthinkable. After all, she was the one who turned the Parisian label into the cool, minimalist brand that women (and men) love, since joining the brand in 2008. And not to mention the many commercially successful bags that she has spawned—the Luggage tote, the Phantom, the Cabas tote, and the Trio, just to name a few. Her ready-to-wear designs defied any traditional notions of sexy, and were often sculptural enough to be classified as 'genderless'. With Hedi Slimane now at the helm of Céline, comes the inclusion of a much awaited menswear collection, yet the Philo effect is undeniably missed.
Available since: December 2017
Succeeded by: Hedi Slimane, previously best known for reviving Saint Laurent.
Projects since: Philo has a reputation of being very guarded and has very rarely accepted interviews of any kind. She's been known to shift schedules of shows for her family, and took a two-year absence from fashion to focus on her children. With that being said, she has no known projects in the works and will probably refrain from stepping into the fashion limelight for quite some time. In a story for The Cut, Cathy Horyn writes, "Will Philo return to fashion one day? My guess is probably not. And I don’t think she’s taking a breather in order to gird herself for a bigger brand, like Chanel or Dior." Sad.