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The 2015 International Fashion Designer Award will be presented to Alessandro Michele on the stage of the London Coliseum next monday, in recognition of the year's remarkable achievements in his role as Creative Director at Gucci, “I’m honoured and still a little incredulous,” he says. Forging his early design career inside Fendi where he was Senior Accessories Designer, Michele has been hired at Gucci by Tom Ford in 2002, raising his career from Leather Good Design Director in 2006, to Gucci Creative Director in 2015 after Frida Giannini. Michele is a relative unknown in the fashion industry, so his appointment at one of the most hallowed brands in fashion was met with some surprise. But each of his four collections have been considered resounding critical successes, and he has been credited with reinvigorating the Italian brand. The designer had only a few weeks to design his first men and women’s catwalk shows. Each created a social media storm, partly because, even before gender fluidity became one of 2015’s cultural obsessions, he dressed his male models in women’s clothes, and vice versa, but also because he wiped away Gucci’s increasingly dated, hard edges and replaced them with a more romantic and soft style. According to Natalie Massenet, BFC chairwoman and founder of Net-A-Porter, “Alessandro Michele is a phenomenon at Gucci. It is not just that he has made the brand covetable and the product so desirable. He has also reinvigorated the retail experience, bringing back playfulness and magic to the flagship store. This is a man who has his customers in his heart and celebrates them.”

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