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The Great Designer Shuffle

Illustration by Hilton Dresden

Fashion's top labels are playing a big game of musical chairs.

Illustration by Hilton Dresden. Clockwise from top left: Slimane, Chiuri, Simons, Elbaz, Jarrar, and Lagerfeld.

Ask any fashionista about the current state of the industry, and you'll probably get the same answer: "It's a hot mess." In the past 18 months, brands like Christian Dior, Lanvin, and Saint Laurent have lost their creative minds -- literally.

The biggest upset came from Hedi Slimane, who spent only three years at YSL despite giving it a complete makeover. His predecessor, Stefano Pilati, was there for eight, but he inexplicably left his new post at Ermenegildo Zegna to make way for Berluti's Alessandro Sartori.

Then there's Raf Simons: The Belgian designer called it quits with Dior after three and a half years (compare that with his seven-year tenure at Jil Sander), and it took nine months for the brand to appoint Maria Grazia Chiuri, one half of Valentino, as his successor. Simons is poised to take over Calvin Klein, which waved goodbye to its two main designers last spring. (Simons was confirmed as chief creative director of the brand on August 2nd.)

Also of note: Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, who was replaced by Bouchra Jarrar in March, is still looking for a new gig. Meanwhile, the success of newcomers at Gucci and Balenciaga (Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia, respectively) is proving that smaller names in top ranks can generate buzz.

Another upheaval could be the retirement of Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld, 82. It's not likely, given that Coco worked until her death, at 87, but at this point, who knows? Only one thing is certain: Fashion is exciting again.

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