AW16: A Guide To Which Designers Are Where

Emily Cronin recaps the big moves and persistent rumours

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Where’s the fire?

Over recent months, designers have vacated top posts at a faster-than-usual pace, leading more than a few observers to suggest that something in fashion must be burning.

The past season has witnessed at least one unceremonious dumping of a designer in apparent conflict with the brand’s owner (Alber Elbaz at Lanvin), one mutually agreed-upon departure (Alexander Wang left Balenciaga to focus on his own, New York-based line; Balenciaga appointed Vetements founder Demna Gvasalia as his replacement), and, most telling, one designer at the height of his powers choosing simply to step away from it all (Raf Simons leaving Christian Dior).

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Image: Getty Images

“Everyone in fashion just needs a little more time.” Alber Elbaz noted at a fashion industry awards event in October, days before his exit was announced.

It’s a familiar lament, but one growing louder with every high-profile departure.

Between collections, precollections, shows, men’s collections, accessories, beauty, campaigns, store openings, international events, and external obligations (ahem, social media and press), the work of designers seems to have increasingly little to do with actual design.

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In an interview with System magazine excerpted by Business of Fashion, Simons noted that at Dior he had an average of three weeks to work on each Dior collection.

“The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time,” he said.

“And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking.”

At the same time, one of the very reasons designers have come to feel so stretched—the public’s hunger for more information, more inspiration, more access—is a signal of the industry’s enduring power.

Digital media and instant access to information have pushed designers and fashion leaders to come up with ever-more innovative ways of telling stories and capturing imaginations, much to the benefit of us, the at-home (or at-#ElleFashionCupboard) audience.

Producing major shows in unusual locales (Hedi Slimane will host a special Saint Laurent mega-show in Hollywood before NYFW; Alexander McQueen will show in London this season) gives us all something to be excited about.

Who’s up next? Read on for our tip sheet on designer moves and brand news for AW16.

Raf Simons departs Christian Dior

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Last season, Raf Simons showed wispy cotton dresses against a wall of delphiniums, for one of the most universally lauded shows of the season.

And then he filed his notice.

Mere weeks after his SS16 outing for Christian Dior, Simons said he would step down “to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside of my work,” according to a statement.

It was all incredibly polite—executives praised Simons for “his exceptional contribution to the House.”

In place at the couturier for three years, Simons overcame the controversies of the house’s previous era and brought fresh energy and excitement to Dior.

We’ll all miss the flowers.

Image: Getty Images

 

…and Olivier Rousteing, Riccardo Tisci, Joseph Altuzarra and Sarah Burton are all rumoured as possible replacements

GETTING READY IN MY BALMAIN ❤️ #NYE #DUBAI #magicNight #endof2015 #lastselfieoftheyear @balmainparis

A photo posted by OLIVIER R. (@olivier_rousteing) on

Now for the fun part: Who will succeed Simons in one of the fashion world’s top jobs?

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The rumour-mill and speculation-mill (if that’s a thing, because that’s what it is) have entered overdrive for this one, with talents as diverse as Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton tipped as possible replacements.

For now, Dior’s steadfast design team will take the bows.

Image: https://www.instagram.com/olivier_rousteing/ 

 

Alexander Wang peaces out at Balenciaga…

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Farewell, Paris: In July, Balenciaga and Alexander Wang announced “their joint decision not to renew their contract” after nearly three years of collaboration.

Wang, downtown darling that he is, would head back to New York to focus on his own brand full-time after designing 10 collections for the French fashion house.

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…and Demna Gvasalia steps in

Next into the top spot at Balenciaga is Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian designer and fashion disrupter behind Vetements, possibly the most talked-about label to emerge from Paris over the past five years.

Tapping Gvasalia represents a vote of confidence in a relatively unknown (albeit Antwerp-trained) designer, and an indication that Balenciaga execs are committed to cool for the house’s next phase.

Image: Getty Images

 

Alber Elbaz ejected from Lanvin…

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Less than a week after Simons publicised his decision to leave Dior, Lanvin announced that designer Alber Elbaz would depart the French fashion house.

Elbaz had designed for Lanvin for nearly 15 years, an eternity in the fashion world, and was credited with elevating the house from a forgotten fragrance brand to a fashion dream factory and red-carpet favourite.

This is a split short on warm fuzzies—in a statement, Elbaz said he was leaving “on the decision of the company’s majority shareholder,” rather than of his own accord.

Lanvin employees were so bereft at Elbaz’s dismissal that hundreds of them protested for his reinstatement.

Now that is loyalty, of the sort that kind of makes you wonder how they’ll treat the next guy…

Image: Getty Images

 

…could Erdem Moralioglu be in?

According to Fashion Week Daily, Lanvin management is courting the London designer as a possible successor to Elbaz.

Known for his entrancing way with ruffles, florals, and lace, Moralioglu shares a certain romance of approach with his would-be predecessor.

Could that be enough to earn him one of the top roles in French fashion?

Wait and see.

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Alexander McQueen to show in London

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Alexander McQueen is coming home.

The fashion house shows in Paris, but this season, Sarah Burton and co are bringing the extravaganza back to London for a one-off show in the city where it all began.

This is going to be something special.

Meanwhile, even McQueen—a brand only ever designed by its founder and his constant right-hand woman—isn’t immune from the Dior rumours, with some commentators suggesting that Burton may be a candidate to replace Simons at Dior.

Image: Getty Images

 

Elsewhere: Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and Giles on the move

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Airmiles are a fashion gal’s friend this season.

You already know that McQueen is coming to London.

Other brands on the move include Giles, Tom Ford, and Saint Laurent, which will show in the city of angels as well as the city of light.

Hedi Slimane will stage a major runway show in Los Angeles, where he resides, the day before NYFW begins (and five days before the Grammys).

The show will include the men’s collection and “Part 1” of the women’s AW16 range, to be completed with a second show during Paris Fashion Week.

London stalwart Giles Deacon is shutting down his ready-to-wear business and leaving London Fashion Week in favour of joining the couture schedule in Paris.

And Tom Ford, who showed in LA last season (keep up, won’t you?), will display his collection through a series of intimate presentations in New York.

We’re getting jetlag just thinking about it.

Image: Getty Images

 

Rumour alert: Anthony Vaccarello to Saint Laurent? Phoebe Philo to Azzedine Alaia?

While Slimane refines plans for his LA event, speculation just won’t stop that he’s on the way out.

Snarled contract negotiations have reportedly led Saint Laurent executives to explore hiring Versus Versace’s Anthony Vaccarello as a successor, should negotiations with Slimane prove fruitless.

A spokesperson for the brand used the words ‘speculation’ and ‘rumour’ in a non-statement about the chatter.

And on an even more surprising note, the rumor mill has begun circulating that Phoebe Philo may leave Céline, after 8 years of critically-adored, persistently copied work at the brand, to take the helm at Azzedine Alaïa. We'll just let that one sink in.

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All change at Mulberry

Mulberry makes its return to the LFW schedule this season after nearly three years under the radar.

The is the first outing for newly installed Creative Director Johnny Coca, who was hired away from his incredibly successful work designing leather goods and accessories at Céline last year.

We’re not sure if there will be dogs on the runway this time, but we’re pretty sure we’ll see some tempting, waitlist-worthy handbags.

Image: Getty Images

More shoes on schedule

Shoe designer and mother of all kitty-cat flats Charlotte Dellal will stage her first full show for Charlotte Olympia at LFW.

The show, happening on 21st February, marks a step up from Dellal’s colourful presentations. 

Image: Getty Images

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