French luxury giant Kering has appointed Sabato De Sarno, a senior fashion designer at Valentino, as creative director of its top brand Gucci, it said on Saturday.
At Gucci, he will be tasked with reviving the fortunes of a brand that accounted for two-thirds of Kering’s profits in 2021 but has been losing momentum in recent years after stellar growth in 2015-19.
De Sarno began his career at Prada in 2005, moving to Dolce & Gabbana, before joining Valentino in 2009, where he held several positions before being appointed fashion director overseeing both men’s and women’s collections, working closely with the chief designer Pierpaolo Piccioli.
“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,” DeSarno said in Kering’s statement.
He will present his debut Gucci runway collection at Milan Women’s Fashion Week in September 2023.
Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri said that having worked with a number of Italy’s most renowned luxury fashion houses, De Sarno “brings with him a vast and relevant experience”.
Former creative director Alessandro Michele, known for his flamboyant and gender-fluid styles, left Gucci abruptly in November after seven years in the job, following tensions between with Kering’s top management, sources told Reuters.
Alongside Bizzarri, he had overseen a period of soaring growth at Gucci between 2015 and 2019, with profits increasing nearly four-fold to just under 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion)and revenue almost trebling.
But in recent quarters, Gucci had begun to lag rivals including Hermes and LVMH’s top brand Louis Vuitton, with its performance in the key Chinese market becoming a source of concern for investors amid COVID-19 lockdowns.