MILAN — Fashion week in Milan in September will kick off with several designer debuts, with the unveiling of the first looks by Sabato De Sarno for Gucci, Simone Bellotti at Bally and Peter Hawkings for Tom Ford, as well as the relaunch of Fiorucci by Francesca Murri. While Moschino remains without a successor to Jeremy Scott, another revered and storied brand is preparing for a comeback in the second half: Walter Albini.
Very little information has been revealed in terms of the strategy for the revamp of the brand and, in particular, regarding the name of the designer who will be tasked with breathing new life into Walter Albini. There has been immense speculation that it would be none other than former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele — although there has been no confirmation from either side. It is understood Michele is limited by a yearlong non-compete until November, coinciding with his exit from Gucci last year.
As reported, 10 Corso Como founder Carla Sozzani told WWD in July she believed “there is nobody better suited than Alessandro Michele for this job.”
Whomever does land it will have a treasure trove of Albini archival designs, sketches and photos and it will be interesting to see how they will be revisited, or simply be inspirational to be in sync with current trends.
While Albini died prematurely, at age 42 in 1983, he was immensely directional in the ‘60s and ‘70s and is considered a pioneer of ready-to-wear, daring and innovative, although his name is not immediately and widely recognizable.
Sozzani is preparing an exhibition dedicated to Albini, which is expected to be held in May at Prato’s Museo del Tessuto. But it’s likely the brand’s new course will have been unveiled before that. Last May, Bidayat revealed it had acquired the intellectual property and substantial part of the archives of Albini, with the goal to revive the brand. Bidayat is controlled by Alsara Investment Group, founded by Rachid Mohamed Rachid.
“There’s a new generation that is interested and curious about the past,” Sozzani said in July. “Albini embodies the roots of Italian fashion, and his designs remain an outstanding patrimony. It’s expensive to launch a new brand and it’s expensive if you revive a brand, but in Albini’s case the legacy of Italy’s history of fashion can be leveraged.”
Albini worked for Krizia, where he met Karl Lagerfeld, who also collaborated with Krizia’s founder Mariuccia Mandelli.
Albini left an indelible mark on the industry, but he was not supported by an organizational or commercial structure, while working on several collections at the same time.
In 1970, he presented three collections — Cameo Trench, Antique Market and Anagrafe — at Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
A year later, he was in charge of design for brands Basile, Callaghan, Escargots, Misterfox and Trell and unveiled all of them as one collection in Milan at the Circolo del Giardino, decamping from Florence, hence his influence on the birth of Milan as a fashion hub.
In 1975, he showed his first couture collection in Rome.
As reported, Shahzad Akhtar has been named group chief executive officer of Alsara Strategic Investments, which controls Bidayat, and includes the brands Akoni, which produces eyewear for Valentino and Balmain; Khrisjoy; design venture Fromm; jewelry brand Azza Fahmy; Egypt-based handbags label Okhtein, and Flyroom.
Rachid is also the chairman of Valentino and CEO of the brand’s parent company Mayhoola, which also owns Balmain and Italian menswear brand Pal Zileri. As reported, Kering took a 30 percent stake in Valentino in July, with the option to take full control by 2028, while Mayhoola could become a shareholder in Kering.