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Inside the Messy Firing of Gucci's CEO and Creative Director

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Getty Images

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When Gucci's former CEO Patrizio di Marco and his partner and Gucci's former creative director Frida Giannini were asked to leave the company at the end of last year, it didn't look like a comfortable parting. Patrizio di Marco was dropped immediately, and his replacement, Marco Bizarre, began working within weeks of di Marco's departure.

On the other hand, Giannini's ending was supposedly going to be less abrupt; she was given the option to close out her tenure after her last women's collection walked the runway during the fall 2015 shows, but ending up leaving Gucci soon after di Marco had departed. The company's head accessories designer, Alessandro Michele, pulled together the men's fall collection in just one week, and one day after the show, Gucci announced that Michele would be taking Giannini's spot as the new creative director.

According to The New York Times's report, the situation was messy from all angles. "Against my will, I leave my cathedral uncompleted," di Marco wrote in a closing memo to Gucci employees that was obtained by the NYT. "It's a pity I won't be able to see how this beautiful story would have continued." He blamed his firing on enemies within the company who had allegedly plotted his downfall.

The new CEO, Marco Bizarre, reportedly found it too difficult to work with Frida Giannini and she was forced to leave immediately. Anonymous sources told reporter John Koblin that Giannini was kicked out on January 9th and left the building that same day, with a few colleagues helping to carry out her belongings. She had been with Gucci for 12 years.

When Gucci announced that Michele would be taking over, it was the last thing anyone expected. The rumor mill had their bets on everyone from Riccardo Tisci to Tom Ford, but no one thought the company would pick an unknown name within the industry. "I think many people were surprised with the decision because Gucci is so important and drives such significant revenues to the group," Imran Amed, the founder of Business of Fashion, told Koblin. "That being said, the industry is willing to wait and see."

Michele's already got at least one fan: Anna Wintour. Koblin reports that Wintour met with the designer shortly after he was appointed as Giannini's successor. "He was eccentric, a little bit eccentric, but charming," Wintour told Koblin. "I really enjoyed talking with him."

When Koblin dug into the reasons behind the double firing, reports of employee tension due to di Marco and Giannini's personal relationship surfaced. "You can't have the two No. 1s being an item," Mimma Viglezio, a former executive vice president for global communications at the Gucci Group, told Koblin. "It's bad for the employees. I got emails from people saying, ‘We don't have anyone to talk to because they talk to each other.' And if one or the other wants to go because they've been hired by someone else, then they're both going. That's bad."

In 2012, Gucci started losing its influence around the same time that di Marco and Giannini had a daughter. The brand never recovered, and changes inevitably had to be made. In his closing memo to employees, di Marco didn't hold back from expressing how much Giannini meant to him: "In the workplace—which we both put above everything, at great personal cost—she was the best possible partner that one could have wished for."