(Milan) The new artistic director of Gucci, Sabato de Sarno, unveiled a timeless, classic and feminine collection in Milan on Friday for his very first fashion show, intended to boost sales of this flagship of the French luxury group Kering.

Far from the eccentricities to which his predecessor Alessandro Michele had accustomed fashionistas, the 40-year-old Neapolitan designer unveiled his vision in front of an audience of “VIPs”, including American stars Julia Roberts and Ryan Gosling as well as British musician Mark Ronson, who wrote the music for the parade.

It is therefore a return to the sources of the Florentine brand’s heritage: leather in all its forms, whether knee-length skirts slit at the front or mini shorts worn low-waisted, jackets monochrome or with vertical stripes, bra tops or nighties. A hyper presence which did not please the defenders of the animal cause, who managed to intervene at the end of the parade by brandishing the sign “Ban exotic skins”.

This collection for spring-summer 2024 also gives pride of place to coats, De Sarno’s favorite pieces, like the one that opened the show, with a minimal masculine cut whose slit at the back is edged with grosgrain ribbon characteristic of the house.

The color palette goes from gray to navy blue, from black to white and this burgundy red, the real common thread of this collection entitled “Ancora” (“Encore”), named after an old hit by the Italian icon Mina. Without forgetting a flamboyant touch of pistachio green.

“The story of everything, again, a whole that is expressed this time through joy,” summarized De Sarno.

At the last minute, Gucci was forced to move the show due to expected rain in the Lombard capital. Originally planned outdoors, the show ultimately took place at the Gucci Hub, its HQ on the outskirts of Milan.

Until now unknown to the general public, accustomed to working in the shadows, De Sarno, appointed in January, is far from being a novice: after a stint at Prada and Dolce

The departure in November 2022 of Alessandro Michele, who had led the house to the top with his eclectic, eccentric and maximalist vision, had left a void and raised many questions.

Especially since at the same time the organizational chart of Gucci has also been turned upside down: Marco Bizzarri, the CEO of all successes, at the head of the house since 2015, must leave his position after this show and will be temporarily replaced by Jean-François Palus, deputy director of Kering and one of the closest collaborators of Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault.

Alessio Vannetti also returned to the fold as executive vice president responsible for the brand, a few years after moving from Gucci to Valentino.

The style office was also partly renewed to make room for De Sarno’s close guard.

“A lot of things are happening at the same time at Kering: the attempted relaunch of Gucci, the modernization of the Gucci organization, a new management team of the Kering group, new acquisitions in fashion and beauty,” notes for AFP Luca Solca, Senior Research Analyst, Global Luxury Goods at Bernstein.

For him, “by far the most important change is Gucci’s new creative chapter. If it works, Kering works. Gucci needs new ideas and a new chapter. Their implementation would make it possible to increase turnover and profits, as Pinault wishes.

The pressure is therefore very strong, while Gucci, Kering’s flagship brand, represents more than half of its turnover.

The luxury group Kering recorded a 10% drop in its net profit in the first half, to 1.785 billion euros, weighed down by Gucci, whose sales fell 1% to 5.128 billion euros.

“The potential of Gucci, in my opinion, is greater than 15 billion euros,” however estimated François-Henri Pinault when publishing these figures.

How long will it take to measure the De Sarno effect? “We do not yet know how effectively and to what extent Sabato De Sarno will be able to open a new season for Gucci,” believes Luca Solca. “We will receive the first concrete signals on the commercial validity of the new collection at the end of 2024. Let’s give it some time. »