2016’s Fashion Musical Chairs: All The Designer Firings and Hirings

Raf Simons to Calvin Klein. Hedi Slimane out of Saint Laurent. It was a year of never-ending cha-cha-changes in fashion’s highest echelons.

Hedi Slimane

Fashion designers come in and out of jobs these days almost as quickly as their designs go in and out of style. A combination of commercial pressure, increased workloads, and creative differences has led to a stunning and non-stopping carousel of designer hiring and firings in recent years, and 2016 was no different.

It was the year that Hedi Slimane exited Saint Laurent while Raf Simons slipped into Calvin Klein. Dior, meanwhile, appointed its first ever female creative director and Diane von Furstenberg handpicked her successor.

The game of shifting designers was so fast this year that three notable lines actually hired new creative directors earlier in the year only to part ways with them before 2016 was over.

Here’s your rundown on all the designer departures and arrivals from the year:

January 26th – Famed lingerie house La Perla announces Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço as its first-ever creative director. He’s charged with turning the brand into a full-on luxury lifestyle company. He would, as you’ll find out, be replaced by year’s end.

February 3rd – Stefano Pilati (who, if you remember, was ousted from Yves Saint Laurent in 2012 to make room for Hedi Slimane) kicks off the fashion merry-go-round for the year in earnest by departing from Ermenegildo Zegna.

February 5th – After building Berluti’s ready-to-wear line from scratch, menswear designer Alessandro Sartori departs to take over director for all of Zegna. It’s a homecoming of sorts; Sartori had previously helmed the Z Zegna line.

March 11th – The fashion world was still mourning the late 2015 departure of Alber Elbaz from Lanvin when the company announces his successor, tasking Bouchra Jarrar with taking over women’s wear. In addition to her own line, Jarrar had previously been Nicolas Ghesquière’s studio director at Balenciaga and head of couture design for Christian Lacroix.

March 23rd – Italian suitmaker Brioni announces that street style star Justin O’Shea would take over as creative director of the storied brand, which caught more than a few by surprise. O’Shea had a history in fashion, but as a retailer and buyer, not a designer. O’Shea is tasked with bringing an aura of cool back to the brand, rather than getting into the nitty-gritty of the design. He taps geezer rock band Metallica as his first campaign stars.

March 24th – Despite commercial success, Massimiliano Giornetti steps down as creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo.

May 24th – Meanwhile, Danielle Sherman, the former Alexander Wang and The Row employee, left Edun, the eco-friendly fashion line started by Bono and wife.

April 1st – After a critically divisive but commercially successful four-year stint at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane announces he’s leaving to go back to doing whatever it is he does when not designing clothes, mainly living in Los Angeles. The designer and YSL’s corporate parent Kering would then spend the rest of the year in lawyers’ offices and the courts battling out the terms of Slimane’s exit.

Anthony Vaccarello. Photograph by

April 4th – Kering didn’t take long to find their Slimane replacement, installing former Versace Versus designer Anthony Vaccarello as the new creative director just three days later.

April 19th – Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli, who had headed Calvin Klein’s women’s and men’s lines respectively, announce that they’re leaving the American brand. This all but confirms a certain rumor that wouldn’t become official until August 2nd.

May 5th – Alessandra Facchinetti steps down at Tod’s after just three years.

May 16th – Diane von Furstenberg, of course, remains affiliated with her namesake brand, but she hires Jonathan Saunders as her company’s first-ever chief creative officer, meaning, essentially, that he’d be in charge of design. He would go on to show his debut collection in a presentation in September.

June 1st – Design duo Arnaud Maillard and Alvaro Castejón announce they’re stepping down from Azzaro.

July 8th – Maria Grazia Churi, formerly of Valentino, is announced as Dior’s first female creative director ever. Her former designer partner Pier Paolo Piccioli remains at Valentino as the brand’s sole creative director.

July 20th – Peter Copping steps down at Oscar De La Renta. The designer was Mr. De La Renta’s handpicked successor to head the New York label known for dressing the Ladies Who Lunch, but just a month before his departure he told W, “They’re kind of a dying breed, aren’t they?” Despite rumors surrounding his exit, Copping said he simply wished to return home to his native Europe.

Raf Simons at his Fall 2016 Menswear presentation in Paris, France, January 2016. Photo by François Guillot/AFP/Getty Images.

August 2nd – After months of speculation, Raf Simons, most recently of Dior, is named chief creative officer at Calvin Klein.

August 25th – As it turned out, Pedro Lourenço left his job at La Perla at some point in July (his short term contract was apparently up). Julia Haart is announced as his replacement.

September 1stHaider Ackermann joins tailored men’s wear label Berluti, a surprising turn of events as he was best known for his women’s fashion and his pieces tend to flow off the body rather than give off a vibe of suited-up tailoring. Though Ackermann’s own men’s wear line is only a few years old, he’s found a big fan in Kanye West, which might explain the pairing.

September 2nd – Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia were behind-the-scenes superstars at Oscar De La Renta for years, but when they were originally passed over for the top design job they departed to create their own line Monse. As luck would have it, they ended up getting the OdLR job anyway after the departure of Peter Copping earlier in the year.

September 8th – Paul Andrew, a shoe designer with a namesake line that had already become a Hollywood favorite, was announced to take over the newly created role of women’s footwear design director at Ferragamo. Before the year was out, he would be joined Fulvio Rigoni, as the brand’s head of women’s wear, and Guillaume Meilland as the brand men’s wear designer. All three replaced the departed Massimiliano Giornetti.

September 10th – Formerly a buzzy American brand, Band of Outsiders as we knew it went kaput in 2015. Belgian fashion fund CLCC bought the rights to the brand and installed three young graduates of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts – Matthias Weber, Niklaus Hodel, and Florian Feder – as the new designers. They showed their debut collection on this date, but, as we’ll see, their stay at the brand wouldn’t last long.

Metallica for Brioni, the new ad campaign under the direction of Justin O’Shea. Photo by @brioni_official.

October 4th – Just six months into the gig Justin O’Shea is out at Brioni. Those Metallica ads will haunt him.

October 12th – After just 19 months, Peter Dundas parts with Roberto Cavalli. The news was a part of a major business restructuring for the Italian fashion house.

October 12th – With Anthony Vaccarello now at YSL, that means Donatella Versace had to find someone else to lead her diffusion line Versus, so she chooses pop star Zayn Malik. He won’t be the creative director in a traditional sense. He’ll design a capsule collection (or maybe a few) for the line, and it appears that the future of Versus lies not in finding a permanent designer but rather producing collaborations with boldfaced names.

October 21st – Consuelo Castiglioni, who founded Marni in 1994, announced she was stepping down as creative director. On the same day Francesco Risso, who most recently worked at Prada, is revealed as her successor.

October 24th – After just four seasons, Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud step down from Carven.

December 1st – Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the design duo best known for their own street-wear line Public School New York, were bounced from their positions at Donna Karan on the same day that fashion conglomerate G-III took over ownership from LVMH.

December 15th – Band of Outsiders 2.0, take two. CLCC announced that not only were they parting ways with the three young designers they trusted with the brand earlier this year, but that there collection wouldn’t even be produced. Brand director Daniel Hettmann and designer Angelo Van Mol were amongst those brought in to try again next year.

The Best Spring 2017 Fashion Trends to Shop Now

Anthony Vaccarello’s debut Saint Laurent collection and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White both included enviable one-shoulder dresses.

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