Fashion's Newly-Minted Creative Directors are Making Moves

The Fall/Winter 2024 season was major for the heavy hitters of the Europe shows, where new creative leadership at Moschino, McQueen, and Chloé revealed their first collections. Also worth noting: sophomore launches from Phoebe Philo and Gucci’s Sabato de Sarno.

Credit: Phoebe Philo

Last fall heralded a changing of the guard across some of luxury fashion’s most recognizable names: within 24 hours of each other, Séan McGirr ascended to the top creative job at McQueen while Chemena Kamali was named creative director of Chloé. Barely one month later, Davide Renne, the former right hand to Alessandro Michele, was named creative director of Moschino after 20 years at Gucci. The fashion world claims to love a fresh perspective, so the industry was atwitter with anticipation for the trio’s debuts, slated for February and March of this year, with their respective Fall/Winter shows. Then tragedy struck. Nine days after his appointment, Renne died. His successor, Adrian Appiolaza, took over the top job just 23 days before Moschino’s runway show on Feb. 22.

From the outside, a designer’s first season steering a storied fashion house is a thankless task—the first collection is the first crêpe, figuratively speaking. A handful of months is hardly enough time to find one’s voice and perspective in the abstract, let alone to also translate it into a full collection that respects the house’s heritage while appealing to the nebulous desires and expectations of the industry’s ecosystem of buyers, media, and consumers. Rising to the occasion under the circumstances Appiolaza faced is unthinkable. Yet, in those three weeks, he crafted a vision of “eccentric realness” rooted in late founder Franco Moschino’s legacy of theatricality and statement-making. His manner pays homage to Franco’s archive and takes the house in a more wearable, less costumed direction than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Moschino’s runways and red carpet moments over the past decade.

Chloé's runway show. Credit: Carlo Scarpato /

At Chloé, meanwhile, Kamali put her savoir-faire of house codes—mined from previous stints at the French fashion house, under Phoebe Philo and Clare Waight Keller—to good use. “I think there’s this connection where today as a woman you need to be able to follow your intuition and be yourself. It’s very much about an intuitive way of dressing,” she told Vogue ahead of her runway debut. A parade of sheer chiffon, lace, leg-lengthening way-high waistlines, thigh-high boots, lots of leather, and teeny-tiny hotpants offered a vision of the intuitive it-girl ease that hadn’t been seen at the house since the tenures of Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld.

McGirr also sought to evoke a return to house codes at McQueen, albeit with a bold move: the show’s opening look and warehouse setting mirrored Lee Alexander’s spring 1995 collection. Before his appointment, McGirr’s was more of an industry name than a household one: his years as a Central Saint Martins wunderkind blossomed into a head-down work ethic at JW Anderson, Dries Van Noten, Burberry, and Uniqlo. Critics had their notes for McGirr, but his finale walk was met with a sound far rarer and more precious than applause: raucous, pretense-shattering laughter to the tune of the show’s closing song: Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.”

McQueen's runway show. Credit: Courtesy of McQueen.

Finally, the Fall/Winter 2024 season marked a moment of note for two other recent debuts that landed last season: Sabato de Sarno at Gucci and Phoebe Philo, at long last, presiding over her own namesake. With his second collection, Gucci’s more-is-more power dressing of prior eras seems to be giving way to a quiet, perhaps underwhelming focus on clothes that are simply nice. If anyone feels like that’s a letdown, de Sarno is unbothered: “If my clothes are commercial, I don’t care,” he told Cathy Horyn. Philo, meanwhile, had the last word at Paris Fashion Week while sitting out the runway rigamarole entirely. Scarcely two days after Chanel closed fashion month, her second edit dropped 60 of her latest garments. Fatigue should be setting into the bones of weary designers and editors, but everyone seems energized by what Philo has to offer.

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