A Guide to the Fashion Industry’s Designer Departures of 2017

The fashion industry’s dizzying game of designer musical chairs has been active for several years now. Among the most notable departures: Alber Elbaz from his longtime post at Lanvin, Hedi Slimane from Saint Laurent and Raf Simons from Dior (with the latter followed by the debut of Dior’s first female designer, former Valentino co-creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri).

This year was no different when it came to these seismic shifts in the fashion landscape. Here’s your guide to the top designer departures of the year — and their replacements, rumored or confirmed.

December 2017: Phoebe Philo announces plans to leave Céline

Phoebe Philo Celine
Céline designer Phoebe Philo.
CREDIT: Stephane Feugere

As WWD reportedly exclusively on Dec. 22, Céline creative director Phoebe Philo will be departing the brand after 10 years, with the fall ’18 collection (showing in March) set to be her last. “Working with Céline has been an exceptional experience for me these last 10 years,” Philo said in a statement. “I am grateful to have worked with an incredibly talented and committed team, and I would like to thank everyone along the way who has been part of the collaborations and conversations. It’s been amazing.” The brand’s design team will be working on subsequent collections while LVMH looks for a replacement for Philo. Rumored candidates include former Stella McCartney design director Natasa Cagalj (now at Ports 1961); Michael Rider, design director of Céline ready-to-wear; and Victoria Beckham design director Ilaria Icardi.

October 2017: Christopher Bailey exits Burberry

Christopher Bailey and Adwoa AboahThe British Fashion Awards, Arrivals, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 04 Dec 2017 The Fashion Awards in partnership with Swarovski recognise creativity and innovation in fashion. The Fashion Awards celebrate exceptional individuals whose imagination and creativity have broken new ground in fashion globally over the past 12 months and brands and businesses that have transformed the possibilities of fashion today
Christopher Bailey with model Adwoa Aboah at the British Fashion Awards in December 2017.
CREDIT: Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock

At one point, Christopher Bailey served as Burberry’s CEO, president and creative director, a sign of just how embedded the designer was in the British luxury goods company. In June, Marco Gobbetti took over the reins as chief executive, and in October, Bailey announced he was stepping down from his creative role after 17 years, effectively cutting all ties with the brand. At the time, it was rumored that Phoebe Philo could take over, given her past relationship to Gobbetti while he was at Céline. But Philo is reportedly not taking on any new positions after her Céline departure in March.

October 2017: Fulvio Rigoni exits Salvatore Ferragamo, and Paul Andrew is promoted to women’s creative director

Paul Andrew
Shoe designer Paul Andrew expanded his role at Ferragamo in October as women’s creative director.

The Italian luxury goods company had been in designer flux since longtime creative director Massimiliano Giornetti stepped down in March 2016 (he had been with the brand since 2004). Fulvio Rigoni — a Dior alum who worked with Raf Simons — was named design director of women’s collections later last year, but he stepped down in October. Shoe designer Paul Andrew, who in 2016 was named designer of women’s shoes, has expanded his responsibilities with the brand, adding the title of creative director of women’s collections following Rigoni’s departure.

July 2017: Bouchra Jarrar leaves Lanvin

Bouchra Jarrar Lanvin
Bouchra Jarrar
CREDIT: Instagram/Lanvin

Bouchra Jarrar was announced last year as the successor to Alber Elbaz at Lanvin (who left in late 2015), but she departed the label after only 16 months as its artistic director. At the time of Jarrar’s July departure, the brand issued the following statement: “Lanvin and Bouchra Jarrar have mutually decided to put an end to their collaboration. This decision is effective as of today. Madame Wang wishes to thank Bouchra Jarrar, who since her arrival brought her talent to serve the company. Bouchra Jarrar thanks Madame Wang for her trust. She wishes most particularly to acknowledge the work of the teams with whom she collaborated to express creativity and French know-how. Bouchra Jarrar will now concentrate on new projects.” Just days later, Lanvin announced Olivier Lapidus as the brand’s new artistic director.

July 2017: Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant leave Courrèges

Sebastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant on the catwalkCourreges show, Runway, Spring Summer 2017, Paris Fashion Week, France - 28 Sep 2016
Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant take a bow after the Courrèges spring ’17 show.
CREDIT: Dominique Maitre/WWD/REX/Shutter

The departures of Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant at Courrèges may seem like smaller waves in the shifting sea of designers, but their exits tell an important narrative about the challenges of resurrecting a heritage brand. The duo were hired in 2015 by French advertising executives Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting to channel the midcentury modern past of the brand, which they acquired in 2011 from namesake founder André Courrèges. Meyer and Vaillant played with different modes of presenting their collections and were initially picked up by the likes of Colette and Bergdorf Goodman. A successor has yet to be named.

April 2017: Jenna Lyons exits J.Crew

Lena Dunham Met Gala 2016 Red Carpet Shoes
(L-R): Jenni Konner, Jenna Lyons and Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls” at the 2016 Met Gala.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock.

Alongside CEO Mickey Drexler, J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons oversaw a wildly successful run at the brand, elevating its preppy basics to more fashion-forward yet still accessible looks. But amid news of a two-year sales slump and a debt load of $2 billion — some of which is set to become current in 2018 — Lyons announced her departure. At the time, Drexler said that no successor would be named and that the design team would become more anonymous. Since then, Drexler himself has resigned as CEO (with former West Elm president James Brett replacing him), and Somsack Sikhounmuong, the head women’s designer tasked with taking over Lyons’ chief design role, also announced his own departure. There are still no replacements announced on the design team.

February 2017: Riccardo Tisci leaves Givenchy

Bella Hadid Riccardo Tisci Nike
Riccardo Tisci with Bella Hadid wearing the NikeLab Dunk Lux Chukka x RT he designed with the brand.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Italian designer Riccardo Tisci helmed Givenchy for 12 years before departing quickly (though reportedly amicably) from the French maison in February. Since then, Tisci has ramped up his work with Nike, debuting a new NBA-inspired Air Force 1 sneaker in October with NikeLab. As for Givenchy? The brand named its first female designer, Claire Waight Keller, in March. Keller had already announced her resignation from Chloé as its creative director.

January 2017: Claire Waight Keller departs Chloé

Claire Waight Keller, Erdem Moralioglu and Luella BartleyThe London Edition Summer Solstice Dinner, London, UK - 20 Jun 2016
Claire Waight Keller (L) with designers Erdem Moralioglu and Luella Bartley in June 2016.
CREDIT: Hannah Young/REX/Shutterstock

Before taking on the top job at Givenchy, Claire Waight Keller had helmed Chloé for six years, following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo, all alums of the French brand. Keller announced her departure in January, showing her last collection in March for the fall ’17 season (at which point her Givenchy creative director role was announced). Chloé quickly appointed Natacha Ramsay-Levi, a Louis Vuitton alum, as Keller’s successor, and she showed her first collection for the label in October.

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