It’s nearly time for everyone’s favorite fashion industry game: creative director musical chairs! From Fendi and Dior to Balenciaga and Givenchy, from Kim Jones and Alessandro Michele to Demna and Sarah Burton, it’s a who’s-who of what’s-what in the world of luxury, specifically at LVMH and Kering.

The biggest moves of 2024 are expected to go down at the labels owned by LVMH: with Matthew Williams’ recent exit, a confident hand is needed to steer the good ship Givenchy, for example.

Fashion insiders are suggesting that it’s about time for Kim Jones, who successfully steered Dior Homme to newfound fame and fortune, to take the lead at the house of Hubert.

Scuttlebutt dug up by fashion reporter Lauren Sherman posits that Jones could be tapped to build “a new brand identity” for Givenchy, which shifted to a grungier streetwear aesthetic under Williams’ purview.

This would leave holes at Dior and Fendi, where Jones oversees womenswear and couture, but not for long.

According to those same rumor mills, ex-Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele — previously speculated for positions as disparate as Chanel and Lanvin — is rumored to ascend to Fendi’s fur-trimmed throne, fulfilling the whispers that’ve been circulating since Michele departed Gucci over a year ago.

It’d be fitting if true, considered that Michele spent five years in the late ’90s at the house, where he sharpened his skills under the watchful eyes of then-artistic directors Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi.

Now, that doesn’t fill the vacancy in Dior’s menswear business but one step at a time.

Elsewhere, we’ve heard rumblings of shifts at Balenciaga.

Parent company Kering, which recently reported underwhelming sales across the board, is currently relying on several young, relatively unknown (and uniformly white) creative directors to lead several flagship brands (Gucci, Bottega Veneta) and its labels back to acclaim and profitability.

But Balenciaga, once responsible for some of the biggest horsepower in Kering’s stable, has faced an especially tough upward climb following widespread fallout over a pair of controversial ads in late 2022.

One of the enduring questions we heard posed in the lead-up to Balenciaga’s Fall 2022 runway show in Los Angeles was: “Is this Demna’s last show?”

To be clear, fashion’s resident enfants terrible never even briefly acknowledged the possibility that he might depart the house that he singularly transformed into a cultural juggernaut, even in the grips of said ad scandal. In the rare interviews he would grant over the past year, the only thing that mononymous Demna would ever admit to was a desire to move ever forward.

Yet we kept hearing fashion’s glitterati repeat the same line, suggesting that change might be in the air for Balenciaga.

We also heard (like a stylish game of telephone) that insiders were floating Martine Rose as a possible Demna successor. Rose, who was named Menswear Designer of the Year at the 2023 Fashion Awards, was also allegedly a finalist to follow Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, remember.

No confirmation on that, obviously, nor any on the prior rumors. That’s why they are rumors.

The world’s most powerful luxury players are constantly shuffle their artistic heads, for various reasons.

Call it creative differences, a bid for newness, plain ol’ boredom — whatever the case, most creative directors at these big fashion brands stick around for only about five years.

There are some exceptions, like Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, and even some family-operated outfits — Versace, obviously, Prada and Fendi, mostly — but the world’s buzziest brands generally attempt to keep their cool (or at least believe they do) by hitting reset on their fashionably fearless leaders with relative frequency.

Note that this typically applies more to menswear brands, or at least brands offering co-ed collections. Nicolas Ghesquière has been sitting pretty at the Louis Vuitton women’s atelier for a decade, for instance, and Dior womenswear head Maria Grazia Chiuri is quite comfortable eight years on.

Still, if even half of the rumors prove true, 2024 would prove a far more splashier year in fashion appointments than 2023.

Indeed: if this was the year of the anonymous designer, next could very well be the year that the big brands’ big boys come out to play, the greatest shakeup in designer fashion since, well, the last one.

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