Creative Directors at the top fashion brands. Who are the creative geniuses behind your favorite designer brand?
In recent years, there has been a growing trend of young designers becoming creative directors at top fashion houses. Many of these names are well-established names in the industry, but the younger generation may have a more unique style and a distinct voice.
A recent example is the appointment of Clare Waight Keller as the first female creative director of Givenchy. The wedding dress she designed for Meghan Markle was seen by 1.9 billion people around the world.
While there are many examples of talented young designers, the majority of successful creative directors have been around for a long time.
One famous designer, Alessandro Michele, has held the role of creative director at Gucci since 2015 until 2022. The brand has experienced a rise in sales and profits following his appointment in 2015, partly because of Michele’s bold vision.
A successful creative director can help a brand sell itself. A new creative director will bring a fresh perspective to the brand and possibly lots of innovative designs . Each new leader brings their own unique vision and sets of values to the brand. It’s vital that the new creative director has a clear vision of what the brand will look like without them.
Now that we’ve established how important creative directors are for the luxury fashion houses, let’s see who are the masterminds behind the most important brands as of 2021.
Virginie Viard since 2020
Instagram : @virginieviard
Mini Biography: Virginie Viard Creative Director at Chanel
Virginie Viard is a prominent French fashion designer celebrated for her contributions to the luxury fashion house Chanel.
Born in 1962, she began her career at Chanel as an intern alongside Karl Lagerfeld, the brand’s iconic creative director. Viard’s remarkable talent and dedication led her to become Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator over the years.
In February 2019, following Lagerfeld’s passing, she assumed the role of artistic director for the house, making her the first woman to lead Chanel’s creative vision. With her keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the brand’s heritage, Viard continues to create captivating and timeless collections that carry on the legacy of Chanel.
Nicolas Ghesquière since 2013
Mini Biography: Nicolas Ghesquière Creative Director at Louis Vuitton
Nicolas Ghesquière is a prominent French fashion designer known for his innovative and boundary-pushing designs. Born on May 9, 1971, he made his mark on the fashion industry at a young age.
Ghesquière gained international acclaim during his tenure as the creative director at Balenciaga from 1997 to 2012. He revitalized the brand with his modern and edgy creations, earning him praise as one of the most influential designers of his generation.
In 2013, Ghesquière joined the luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton as its artistic director of women’s collections, where he continues to captivate the world with his visionary approach to fashion. His designs seamlessly blend artistry, craftsmanship, and contemporary aesthetics, making him a true icon in the fashion world.
Miuccia Prada since 1978
(no personal Instagram page)
Mini Biography: Miuccia Prada Creative Director at Prada
Miuccia Prada, born Maria Bianchi, is an Italian fashion designer and head designer at the Prada fashion house.
She joined her family’s business in 1970 and, with the help of Patrizio Bertelli, revived the company, becoming its head designer in 1978.
Prada’s minimalist and refined designs, including the iconic Pocono nylon handbags, gained global recognition in the 1980s. Her brand stood out for its understated glamour, challenging industry norms and redefining femininity.
Prada expanded the brand with a perfume line, the more affordable Miu Miu, and a menswear line, establishing Prada as a prestigious international status symbol.
Demna Gvasalia since 2015
Mini Biography: Demna Gvasalia Creative Director at Balenciaga
Demna Gvasalia, born in Georgia in 1981, pursued his passion for fashion despite initial obstacles and studied fashion design in Antwerp, Belgium.
In 2014, he launched his own brand, VETEMENTS, before becoming the artistic director of Balenciaga’s collections in 2015. Known for his modern, utilitarian designs, Demna reimagined the work of Cristobal Balenciaga, infusing it with contemporary attitudes.
He received several prestigious awards, including the International Ready-To-Wear Designer award and the International Designer of the Year award.
In 2020, Demna reintroduced Haute couture at Balenciaga, emphasizing creative freedom and innovation, further solidifying his position as a trailblazing force in the fashion industry.
Sabato De Sarno – since 2023
Mini Biography: Sabato De Sarno Creative Director at Gucci
Sabato De Sarno, a 39-year-old fashion designer born in Naples, Italy, has an impressive background working for prestigious fashion houses such as Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Valentino.
At Valentino, he played a crucial role as Pierpaolo Piccioli’s “right-hand man,” leading both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and contributing to a more contemporary aesthetic for the brand. His extensive experience and deep understanding of luxury fashion led to his appointment as the new creative director of Gucci.
In this role, De Sarno will oversee Gucci’s women’s and men’s collections, accessories, leather goods, and lifestyle, continuing to build upon the brand’s rich heritage while bringing his distinctive vision to the house. His debut collection for Gucci is expected during Milan Fashion Week in September 2023.
Alessandro Michele 2015-2022
Hedi Slimane since 2018
Mini Biography: Hedi Slimane Creative Director at Celine
Hedi Slimane, a French fashion designer and photographer born on July 5, 1968, made a significant impact on the menswear fashion industry in the early 2000s by introducing the androgynous skinny silhouette.
After starting his career as a fashion assistant and working for Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), he became the artistic director of its menswear division and later moved to Christian Dior, where he rebranded the menswear line as Dior Homme.
Slimane’s skinny silhouette gained widespread popularity among celebrities and musicians, solidifying his status as a trailblazing designer.
In addition to fashion, he pursued photography and published several books of photographs. After leaving Yves Saint Laurent, he returned to the fashion world as the creative director of Céline in 2018.
Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski since 2014
No Instagram profile
Mini Biography: Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski Creative Director at Hermès
Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, a French fashion designer, currently serves as the Artistic Director of Hermés Women’s Ready-to-Wear.
She made her debut for the brand during the WRTW A/W 15 collection. Nadège took on the role of Artistic Director for Hermés Women’s Ready-to-Wear in 2014.
Prior to this, she held positions at THE ROE, CELINE, and MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. Her training includes studying fashion design at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris and attending The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, where she focused on visual arts, fashion design, costume, and textiles.
Kim Jones since 2020
Mini Biography: Kim Jones Creative Director at Fendi
Kim Jones is an English fashion designer born on September 11, 1979. He studied menswear at Central Saint Martins and launched his own brand in 2003.
Throughout his career, Jones collaborated with various brands and served as the Creative Director for Alfred Dunhill before joining Louis Vuitton in 2011 as the style director for the men’s ready-to-wear division.
He then became the Creative Director of Dior Homme in 2018, where he designed custom-made tour outfits for BTS.
In 2020, Jones was appointed as the Artistic Director of Fendi’s women’s collection. His work has garnered international acclaim and recognition in the fashion industry.
Matthew Williams since 2021
Mini Biography: Matthew Williams Creative Director at Givenchy
Matthew M. Williams is an American designer, creative, and entrepreneur. He co-founded the fashion brand 1017 ALYX 9SM and is known for his art direction and collaborations with various international brands, including Dior, Nike, and Moncler.
Williams’ career began with costume design for Kanye West, leading to art directing and creative collaborations with artists like Lady Gaga.
In June 2020, he was appointed as the Creative Director of Givenchy’s women’s and men’s collections, and he launched his first collection for the brand in December 2020. His work showcases a unique and brutalist industrial aesthetic.
Maria Grazia Chiuri since 2016
Mini Biography: Maria Grazia Chiuri Creative Director at Dior
Maria Grazia Chiuri is an Italian fashion designer known for her work at Fendi and Valentino before being appointed creative director at Dior.
She studied at IED, Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, and joined Fendi in 1989, where she played a key role in developing the famous Baguette bag. Later, she moved to Valentino and became co-creative director of the brand with Pier Paolo Piccioli.
In 2016, Chiuri made history as the first woman to lead the creative side of Dior since its inception in 1946. Her shows at Dior often feature feminist themes and are praised for reflecting the evolving perspectives of the younger generation.
11. Saint Laurent
Anthony Vaccarello since 2016
Mini Biography: Anthony Vaccarello Creative Director at Saint Laurent
Anthony Vaccarello is a renowned Belgian fashion designer known for his cutting-edge designs and bold aesthetics.
Born on 18 January, 1982, he rose to prominence in the fashion world with his distinct and provocative style. Vaccarello gained widespread recognition as the creative director of Saint Laurent in 2016, where he continued to push boundaries and redefine modern luxury.
His innovative approach to fashion and unwavering commitment to craftsmanship have solidified his position as one of the industry’s most influential figures.
Conclusion: The creative directors at the top fashion houses
Choosing a creative director is an important decision for any fashion house. A creative director should be able to inspire the company’s vision and provide the brand with a direction. Furthermore, it is essential that the creative director and the CEO have a good relationship, combining the creative and commercial aspects of any successful brand.
Diversity is also a major point when talking about creative directors of the top fashion houses. From the 11 brands selected for this post, only 4 are led by women – Dior, Hermès, Prada and Chanel.
The industry is still shockingly male dominated, so we are hoping that more and more women get a “seat at the table” in the fashion industry.
Do you have a favorite creative director? And if so, who?
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