After rumors began swirling on Thursday morning that Off-White creative Virgil Abloh is in the process of “signing a deal” to take the helm of Versace, a spokesman for the Milan-based fashion brand has vehemently denied the reports. “This is categorically a lie. Nothing similar is happening,” the spokesman for the brand Gianni built said on Thursday to FashionNetwork. New York-based publication Glossy claims that two sources “close to the designer,” whose Off-White collection is based in Milan, confirmed that he is in the midst of contract talks with Versace.
Abloh’s pal, Riccardo Tisci has long been the front-runner for the top job. Even before news broke in February that Tisci was definitely leaving Givenchy, where he served as creative director for 12 years, he was linked to Versace. According to reports early this year, Versace made overtures to Tisci, but emphasized that any contact between Versace and Tisci “would be delicate,” given his close relationship with the house’s current creative head Donatella Versace, which culminated with her appearing in Givenchy’s fall 2015 campaign.
As for what is taking so long – assuming the Tisci-to-Versace reports are, in fact – true: Well, he is said to be locked into an iron-clad non-compete agreement with Givenchy and its parent company, LVHM, which serves to bar him from working for a competitor for an unspecified period of time.
This is not the first time Abloh – who has made clear his ambitions to helm a major house – has been at the center of creative director rumors. Back in February, reports arose that he was in the running to replace Tisci at Givenchy, a position that has since been handed to former Chloe creative director Clare Waight Keller. The Paris-based brand shut down those rumors, telling WWD: “Mr. Abloh was not approached by the house and is not to join the organization.”