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Gucci's CEO and Creative Director Step Down

Who will lead the next era of Gucci?

Get ready for a new era at Gucci. Kering, the storied luxury brand's parent company, announced Wednesday that both Creative Director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco will be stepping down early next year. While Giannini will stick around until the end of February, after showing her fall 2015 collection in Milan on Feb. 25, di Marco is out January 1, and his replacement has already been named. Kering appointed Marco Bizzari, who was recently promoted to CEO of the conglomerate's couture and leather goods division, after a successful run as CEO of Bottega Veneta.

Giannini has been with Gucci since 2002 and became creative director in 2006. She had a tough act to follow (Tom Ford) and Gucci's growth has slowed compared to other Kering luxury houses such as Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta -- sales slipped 1.6 percent in the third quarter of this year, and 2.1 percent in 2013 (which was at least partially due to the corruption crackdown in China). Her tenure at Gucci has been associated with lots of fur and sex appeal and glamorous eveningwear, though she seemed to be toning that down in recent seasons, showing suits and pea coats for fall and denim for spring. She and di Marco are credited largely for the success of Gucci's licensing businesses, particularly its beauty division, which the brand just launched in November.

So now the big question is: Who will replace Giannini as the creative head of Kering's largest luxury house? Rumors have been swirling since spring (and were vehemently denied) that Giannini would be leaving and that Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci would take her place. Another rumored contender, naturally, is Joseph Altuzarra, whom Kering invested in last year. All Kering says is that a replacement will be named "later on." Stay tuned.

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