As fashion changes over time, even long-established brands sometimes experience fluctuations in fortune. Italian luxury house Tod’s has just announced that creative director Walter Chiapponi is set to step down by the end of this month. On Wednesday, Tod’s announced that Milanese designer Giorgio Armani would be leaving its men’s and women’s collections by mutual agreement. Chiapponi will present his final collection for women during Tod’s Spring/Summer 2024 show during Milan Fashion Week in September, according to Tod’s. Chiapponi joined Tod’s from Bottega Veneta where he worked under Tomas Maier; since joining, he had led both women’s and men’s collections under his leadership until being replaced by an unidentified new creative director.
Chiapponi’s arrival was widely seen as a turning point for Tod’s house, which had previously struggled with declining sales and innovation issues. His appointment united men’s and women’s design under a single creative director with his unique vision revitalizing this luxury label. Critics lauded his ability to modernise while remaining true to Tod’s heritage and Italian craftsmanship by designing collections with unassuming elegance that exude nonchalant luxury.
Chiapponi made an immediate and dramatic impactful on Tod’s, leading the business through significant expansion in both apparel and accessory lines, while simultaneously leading its repositioning as an innovative and forward-thinking leader in leather goods, expanding color options and materials used. A nod to Tod’s rich leather heritage was expressed through his bold use of Gommino pebble details enlarged and displayed boldly across Tod’s signature moccasins, ballet flats, boots as well as increasing handbag selections.
Tod’s also highlighted that Chiapponi had left Tod’s in good financial shape, with revenues across all brands increasing 24.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year. Chiapponi’s departure marks an unnerved moment in many of the luxury house industry as some big-name designers depart their positions to pursue other endeavors.
Gabriela Hearst recently parted ways with Chloe; Daniel Fletcher left as menswear artistic director at Fiorucci; Ludovic de Saint Sernin left Ann Demeulemeester; and Rhuigi Villasenor left Bally; all major fashion labels have had to reconfigure their creative teams in response to shifting cultural beliefs concerning creative direction. This latest departure adds another piece to an expanding pattern of high-level departures from some of their top creative roles amid changing approaches towards creative direction.