A number of major brands are now deciding that instead of betting on the hiring of a new “name” designer from outside the house to renew interest in a label, they are choosing to pluck new talent from within. Already up to speed on the codes and heritage of the label, these newly appointed leaders have risen up through the ranks and proved themselves before being tapped for the big gig.
The obvious examples of this new trend is Sarah Burton who (after working at the house for 15 years) has seamlessly picked up the reins from Alexander McQueen after the designer passed away last year. Her strong collections have continued in the tradition of her mentor and yet have allowed for her own aesthetic to shine out. The (slightly) more forgiving cuts of her McQueen clothing and of course the royal wedding dress and bridesmaid dress she created for the Middleton sisters are proof that this designer is starting to spread her wings and fly.
At Balmain the designer Olivier Rousteing has taken over for the departing Christophe Decarnin. Mr. Rousteing has been with the house since 2009, studied at ESMOD and will create both the men’s and women’s collections. The designer is still a bit of an unknown quantity as he is not giving interviews until after the debut of his Spring 2012 collection and his aesthetic is unclear. One thing is for sure he will have to expand out from the power shoulder, crystal covered collections of his predecessor if he wants to stay relevant in the fast paced fashion world.
Although she is not a designer, Emmanuelle Alt is another great example of this trend. She worked for ten years French Vogue before being giving the editor in chief job earlier this year. Over that time Ms. Alt honed her talent as the magazine’s fashion editor and was instrumental in creating its iconic and cutting edge look. Her appointment to the top post shows the magazine’s commitment to the style she helped define for the glossy.
But the real proof of this “hire from within” trend will be what happens at Christian Dior.
For the moment it is Dior’s in-house design studio that is creating the cruise and upcoming haute couture collection. It is interesting that the name of the man heading that team, Bill Gaytten, has made it into press. He worked along side Galliano since the 80s and, just like Sarah Burton, is comfortable with the codes of the house and can give it continuity. The test will be to see if he can imbue the next Dior haute couture collection with a bit of his own attitude. If he is able to do that, then maybe it will be his turn to step into the spotlight.