(Bloomberg) --

Gucci named Sabato De Sarno as creative director at Kering SA’s biggest brand, filling a crucial role in the fashion world after the exit of star designer Alessandro Michele in late 2022. 

De Sarno will start his new role as soon as he completes all his obligations as fashion director for men and women’s ready-to-wear clothing at Valentino, Paris-based Kering said in a statement on Saturday. 

He’ll show his first collection for Gucci at Milan’s Women’s Fashion Week in September and report to Gucci Chief Executive Officer Marco Bizzarri.

The appointment of De Sarno, little known to fashion insiders, comes after the exit of Michele, the former creative director, who helped bring Gucci past the 10 billion euro ($10.87 billion) sales mark. 

Read more: Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele Leaves Label 

But the brand’s appeal had started to wane in recent years as customers tired of Michele’s creations, notable for their flamboyant, bohemian-chic designs.

Gucci likely generated around 10.68 billion euros in sales last year and probably represented two thirds of Kering’s profit, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Kering reports annual results on Feb. 15.

Under current artistic director Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino has become associated with a modern yet elegant look. Piccioli’s bold pink collection unveiled last year vowed fashion critics and got a boost of visibility when it was promoted by actress Zendaya.

De Sarno, born in Naples, is less known than Piccioli. He started his career in 2005 at Prada, moved on to Dolce & Gabbana, and then joined Valentino in 2009.

Gucci has been seeking to boost its offering of more classic products, notably leather goods, which tend to be very profitable for fashion brands. The Italian label is also seeking to boost its product sales to men.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.