For the past 16 months, a big question mark has loomed over fashion. Where, everyone has wanted to know, will Alessandro Michele go next? Today, we got an answer. Alessandro Michele is the new creative director of Valentino. His first day is April 2, and his debut collection will be presented in Paris this September.

“It’s an incredible honor for me to be welcomed at Maison Valentino,” said the designer in a statement. “I feel the immense joy and the huge responsibility to join a Maison de Couture that has the word ‘beauty’ carved on a collective story, made of distinctive elegance, refinement and extreme grace.”

The appointment is a significant event. Michele has been the industry’s hottest free agent ever since leaving Gucci, where he ushered in a new era of maximalist menswear that merged rococo and punk, and which introduced guys to pussy-bow blouses and even gowns, courtesy of Michele muse Harry Styles. Though he got the top job in 2015 as an unknown studio hand, he left at the end of 2022 as a bona fide celebrity designer for the age of new masculinity. His work at Gucci had a gravitational effect on the look and feel of so many other luxury brands, so his appointment is a coup for Valentino, which less than a week ago parted ways with long-tenured creative director Pierpaoli Piccioloi.

Can Michele make magic happen again? If the tone of his statement is any indication, the designer is still immersed in fantasy. And he’s clearly excited to get back in the game.

Said Michele, “Today, I search for words to nominate the joy, to regard it, to really convey what I feel: the smiles that kick from the chest, the bliss of gratitude that lights up the eyes, that precious moment when necessity and beauty reach out and meet. Joy, though, is such a living thing that I’m afraid to hurt it if I dare to speak its name.”

Michele is surely thrilled to be staying in his hometown of Rome, where Valentino was founded as a couture salon in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti. Michele indicated he has been thinking of the maison’s long history, even if he won’t get the keys to the archive until next week. “My first thought goes to this story: to the richness of its cultural and symbolic heritage, to the sense of wonder it constantly generates, to the very precious identity given with their wildest love by founding fathers, Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti,” he said. “These references always represented an essential source of inspiration for me, and I’m going to praise such influence through my own interpretation and creative vision.”

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Valentino Garavani and Alessandro Michele

Darren Gerrish / Getty Images

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