Alessandro Michele grew up on the outskirts of Rome. His father was a technician for Alitalia airlines and his mother was an executive assistant at a film company. He remembers his parents being happy but different. They were independent thinkers. The designer remembers a day in Florence, out with a friend, coming across his parents, who were visiting. “I told my friend, ‘Look at my mum.’ [I] told him, ‘Look at my dad, there’s my dad’. And he was like, ‘Really? You’re kidding me!’ The way my dad looked, super long hair, long beard and this huge straw hat during the winter. Properly free,” Michele told AnOther magazine in February. Michele credits his parents with his discovery and love of a “very eclectic beauty,” combining his mother’s classic Hollywood glamour with his father’s “crazy shaman” spiritual eclecticism.
Michele attended Rome’s Academy of Costume and Fashion, after which he joined the Italian knitwear brand Les Copains. From there, he went to work for Silvia Venturini Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi, where he experienced significant success designing leather goods. In 2002, Michele joined Gucci alongside his predecessor, Frida Giannini. They began their work in London under Tom Ford. When sales slumped in 2004, Ford and then-CEO Domenico De Sole were ousted. Giannini was appointed creative director and Michele worked as an associate designer, executing her vision for the next 11 years. As he explains it, “I was not creative—I was more executive. My job was to more or less work quite exactly from the idea of another person. I didn’t have freedom. I just put in ten percent of my creativity.”