Your Handy Guide to All the Designer Departure and Appointment Rumors

It can be difficult to keep tabs on this wild, ever-changing game of musical chairs, so we're compiling it all in one place.
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Maura Brannigan
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It can be difficult to keep tabs on this wild, ever-changing game of musical chairs, so we're compiling it all in one place.

Every three years or so, the fashion industry is tasked with keeping track of an extensive (and at times, confusing) game of designer musical chairs. This round, which arguably kicked off in July 2015 when Alexander Wang did not renew his contract with Balenciaga, is particularly widespread. It involved an empty top design role at Lanvin, with lingering rumors that Céline and Chanel may soon have vacancies as well. And up to this point, much of it remains unconfirmed hearsay, which makes the movement somewhat difficult to track — but that's why we're here! 

We've outlined every single designer rumor we've heard thus far, each of which, we assume, will hit a fever pitch during (or shortly after) the upcoming fall 2017 Fashion Month. Find those below, and stay tuned — we'll update this story with any additional news as it comes.

Virgil Abloh to Givenchy: Just days after Riccardo Tisci announced his departure from Givenchy, WWD's sources report that the Parisian house has already held talks with Off-White's Virgil Abloh as a possible replacement. Abloh offered the following statement to WWD: "My trajectory is to update and provide something new in the fashion industry by way of creating a project and using it as a case study on how to update a luxury house." Abloh is already in good standing with LVMH, which owns Givenchy: In 2015, Off-White was a finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, opposite Demna Gvasalia's Vetements. Hm.

Though a spokesperson for Givenchy initially declined to comment upon WWD's first report, the fashion house finally provided a statement denying talks with Abloh: "Givenchy's new creative organization will be communicated shortly. Mr. Abloh was not approached by the house and is not to join the organization."

Jil Sander to tap Lucie and Luke Meier: According to WWD's market sources, Jil Sander is set to tap Lucie and Luke Meier — a married couple who respectively headed up Dior's spring and fall ready-to-wear and couture studios under Raf Simons — to succeed Rodolfo Paglialunga as co-creative directors. An announcement is not expected to be made until March, following the brand's women's fall 2017 ready-to-wear runway show.

Chloé eyeing senior Louis Vuitton designer: Chloé has reportedly held discussions with Natacha Ramsay-Levi, a key designer on Nicolas Ghesquière's team at Louis Vuitton (their professional relationship dates back to Ghesquière's time at Balenciaga). According to WWD's market sources, Ramsay-Levi will remain under contract at Vuitton through Paris Fashion Week's fall 2017 season — as will Chloé's current creative director, Clare Waight Keller. Chloé officials declined all comment to WWD.

Paul Andrew to Ferragamo: Paul Andrew — who was awarded the CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design this past June — is said to join Salvatore Ferragamo as the Italian house's first-ever creative director for shoes, according to WWD. If appointed, Andrew would join the brand at a crucial time: Ferragamo's label-wide creative director, Massimiliano Giornetti, left the label in March after 16 years; meanwhile, CEO Michele Norsa left the label and was replaced by Furla CEO Eraldo Poletto earlier this month.

Nicolas Ghesquière leaving Louis Vuitton; Jonathan Anderson to replace him: According to Reuters, Nicolas Ghesquière is reportedly planning to exit Louis Vuitton, where he has held the top design role since November 2013 following Marc Jacobs's departure. "People in the studio are expecting [Ghesquière] to leave, possibly as early as after the October collection," a source told the wire service.

Meanwhile, Irish designer Jonathan Anderson is allegedly in talks to replace Ghesquière. Anderson is currently creative director of his own eponymous label, J.W.Anderson, and Spanish luxury house Loewe, the latter of which is also owned by LVMH.

Calvin Klein to announce Raf Simons by August: Rumors of Raf Simons landing the top design role at Calvin Klein have been circulating for months now (see below), and it looks like said speculation still has some legs. In a new interview with Andy Cohen on Sirius XM, Calvin Klein, the person, revealed that the brand's new creative director would be announced no later than August. According to WWD, Klein's timeline lines up perfectly with Simons's non-compete schedule.

Karl Lagerfeld retiring: According to a new report in Page Six, Chanel's upcoming resort show in Cuba may be Karl Lagerfeld's last. "He's really tired," a Paris friend of Lagerfeld's reportedly told the paper. "He's not doing well and he's ready to stop." Though the revered designer has long kept his age under wraps, biographer Alicia Drake said he will turn 83 this September. But despite these whisperings, Lagerfeld told VogueTV in 2012: "Why should I stop working? If I do, I'll die and it'll all be finished." Who, then, might succeed him? 

Well...

Hedi Slimane to Chanel: With Slimane now a free agent, there's been much industry chatter that Saint Laurent's former creative director is bound to take the reins at Chanel, following Lagerfeld's rumored retirement. While this predication has been quite pervasive in recent months, it's this Instagram caption from Suzy Menkes that made us do a double-take: "Did [Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent] think Hedi was heading to Karl and Chanel — as half the room was claiming? 'No comment' was the reply from [Bergé]."

Chanel calls rumors of Lagerfeld stepping down "unsubstantiated": On the heels of Tuesday's speculation, a spokesperson provided the following statement to Vogue UK: "The rumours about Mr. Lagerfeld discontinuing the collections and the cruise collection show in Cuba being the last are unsubstantiated." We're not saying anything substantial, but Saint Laurent did release a similar message after the buzz that Slimane was departing first hit the Internet waves in January.

Sarah Burton to Dior: Since being named creative director at Alexander McQueen in May 2010, Burton — who started at McQueen as an intern 19 years ago — has maintained a relatively low public profile in comparison to the Riccardo and Olivier Rousteings of the design sphere. While Alber Elbaz was, at one time, a front-runner for the Dior position (left vacant by Raf Simons) following his unceremonious departure from Lanvin, Burton's name is now being thrown around as well if Fashion Week Daily is to be believed.

But wait, there's more!

Olivier Rousteing, Riccardo Tisci or Joseph Altuzarra to Dior: Days after Simons's Dior exit, The New York Times's Vanessa Friedman hinted that Balmain's Rousteing, Givenchy's Tisci and Joseph Altuzarra were already being considered for the top job at the iconic French fashion house. But in December, we learned that Dior is taking its time finding a replacement: The brand's next two collections — spring 2016 couture and fall 2016 ready-to-wear — will be designed by the in-house team, while pre-fall 2016 is being shown by appointment only.

Anthony Vaccarello to Saint Laurent: In the span of two weeks, the first rumor about Slimane leaving Saint Laurent hit the Internet, was swiftly shut down by the brand's PR and a second rumor emerged with far more detail involving Versus's creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. A lengthy report in WWD Thursday claimed that Slimane has yet to renew his contract with Kering, and Vaccarello is in "extensive talks" about taking over his role. Saint Laurent is set to show its fall 2016 collection, potentially Slimane's last, in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.

Erdem Moralioglu to Lanvin: Elbaz's October dismissal from Lanvin has been nothing if not dramatic, with reports that the house's 330-person staff protested his termination; Elbaz also urged Lanvin in an email to stop blaming his creative work. The show, however, must go on — and now, there's reason to believe that Moralioglu, the London-based founder of Erdem, is "in talks" with Lanvin's management according to Fashion Week Daily. Until a new creative director is hired, womenswear designer Chemena Kamali and accessories designer Lucio Finale lead the brand.

Phoebe Philo leaving Céline: In October, Friedman opened our eyes to chatter that surrounds Céline's acclaimed creative director, Phoebe Philo. "Indeed, Ms. Philo has publicly mused about her desire to spend more time in nature," Friedman wrote, "and that, combined with the fact she left Chloé at the height of her success, has made rumors of a potential departure from Céline almost impossible to squash." Despite Céline's wild popularity both commercially and among critics, it remains entirely believable that Philo would decamp simply for a change of scenery. 

Fuel was only added to the fire when The Fashion Law released a report claiming that Philo's departure would, in fact, be coming after Céline's fall 2016 show. TFL claims that the designer is "in discussions with luxury firm Richemont," which owns such brands as Chloé, Azzedine Alaïa and Cartier.

McQ designers Fiona Sinha and Aleksandar Stanic to Alexander McQueen: Should Burton decamp to Dior, rumblings in Fashion Week Daily claim that Alexander McQueen is looking to McQ designers Fiona Sinha and Aleksandar Stanic as Burton's potential successors. Sinha and Stanic, who first met as students at Central Saint Martins in 1998, have headed up McQ, the house's contemporary label, for the past two years. The transition, it seems, would be a natural one.

Raf Simons to Calvin Klein: Since it was announced in October that Raf Simons would be leaving Dior, rumors surfaced almost immediately that the Belgian designer was looking to head to Calvin Klein. According to sources at The Fashion Law, this speculation may have weight to it: Simons might be angling to replace Francisco Costa, who has held the top design role within Calvin Klein's womenswear since 2003. But will Simons's reported non-compete get in the way? Only time will tell.

Stefano Pilati to Lanvin: Could Ermenegildo Zegna's Stefano Pilati — who departed Agnona, the label's women's counterpart, in July — be replacing Elbaz in Lanvin's top design role? While neither brand has confirmed the news, both WWD and Marie Claire Italy deem the move a possibility. A Pilati exit would come hot on the heels of a critically acclaimed fall collection, which WWD called "arresting" and "his best yet."

This story has been updated to include the Virgil Abloh, Jil Sander, Chloé, Paul Andrew, Nicolas Ghesquière, Raf Simons, McQ, Calvin Klein, Stefano Pilati, The Fashion Law and Page Six reports.