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Gucci names insider Alessandro Michele new creative head

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MILAN (AP) — Gucci insider Alessandro Michele was named as the brand's sole creative director Wednesday, cinching the promotion with a menswear collection this week that Gucci executives said signaled the brand's "new direction."

Michele, 42, replaces Frida Giannini, whose departure after a decade was announced last month. The first collection under Michele's name will be the women's ready-to-wear for next autumn and winter, to be shown Feb. 25, Gucci said in a statement.

Michele joined Gucci in 2002, becoming an associate to the creative director in May 2011. Last September, he was also named creative director of the Richard Ginori porcelain brand, owned by Gucci. He previously worked as a senior accessories designer at Fendi and studied at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome.

Michele made his first appearance before Gucci's public on Monday when the brand unveiled a menswear collection for next autumn and winter that the menswear team had revamped in a five-day marathon after Giannini departed earlier than expected.

The androgynous looks, featuring silky high-collared shirts with elaborate bows, baggy tailored trousers along with sandals and loafers sporting tufts of fur, received sustained applause.

Michele, wearing a white fisherman's sweater and looking much scruffier than the Gucci portrait accompanying the announcement of his promotion, took a timid bow, surrounded by the Gucci menswear team.

Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, who took over Jan. 1, said Michele was chosen for "the contemporary vision he has articulated for the brand that he will now bring to life," adding that the menswear collection shown Monday "is a clear indication that the brand is ready to take a new direction."

Giannini was to have presented her final menswear collection, as well as a womenswear looks next month, but she left earlier than planned last week without explanation. Gucci officials denied any acrimony and called the early departure "a new chapter."

Bizzarri replaced former CEO Patrizio di Marco, who stepped down at the end of December after 13 years with the group. Giannini and di Marco are also romantic partners and the parents of a young daughter.

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Colleen Barry


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