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The artistic director in fashion: a profession in full mutation (Part 1)

The artistic director in fashion: a profession in full mutation (Part 1)

The time when a couturier remained inseparable from his brand seems well and truly over. If Coco Chanel remained the mistress of her collections until her death, and today an exceptional figure, Paul Smith, is still the director of her fashion house created more than 50 years ago, this is not the case for Christian Dior, who only remained at the head of his house for ten years, succeeded by Yves Saint-Laurent and Marc Bohan, giving rise to a truth that has never ceased to be verified ever since: a brand is stronger and therefore more enduring than its creator.

 

It seems interesting to ask the question of the place of the artistic director in fashion houses. Indeed, this profession seems to have been undergoing major changes over the last few years.

 

The super star and all-powerful artistic director

 

The major trend in fashion houses has long been to give the first place to the artistic director, whether or not he is the creator of the brand. This trend was pushed to the extreme at GUCCI with Tom Ford in the early 1990s.

 

The fashion designer is no longer just a stylist but an almost all-powerful decision-maker, present at all levels, from communication strategy to boutique decoration, something Alber Elbaz lamented when he left the LANVIN house in October 2015:

 

We, the designers, started as couturiers […] then we became creative directors […] and now we have to be buzzmakers. »

 

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The fashion market has become such that the same person is in charge of both creation and image, to be present at all events concerning the brand, and to animate social networks.

 

The pace of fashion has become frenetic, and the consequence of this acceleration is the amplification of the turnover phenomenon: designers stay in the same house for an average of three years and succeed each other. This game of musical chairs has marked the end, in recent years, of the figure of the unique and all-powerful artistic director.

 

 

Featured photo : Tom Ford © Press

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