What’s In a Name? Deciphering Fashion’s Inscrutable Job Titles


One high powered French fashion publicist admitted the difference wasn’t clear to him, before positing that “artistic director” indicates a more expansive role, one in control of both creative design and global image. “Artistic seems superior in the word,” he said. A compelling theory, but one that doesn’t totally hold up: Jonathan Anderson, who oversees image at Loewe, is a creative director. “There are no rules,” the publicist concluded.

The distinction is almost certainly related, in many cases, to contracts and preferences—and potentially rivalries—across brands and luxury groups. At Celine, Hedi Slimane is the artistic, creative, and image director, an impressive-sounding title (collect ’em all!) that would seem to reflect the fact that Slimane photographs the house’s campaigns. Not to be outdone, Slimane’s successor at Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello, is also called the artistic, creative, and image director, which would represent a new title at the brand. 

Vaccarello’s Kering stablemates have different jobs, in name: Demna is artistic director, and Matthieu Blazy is creative director. We can only speculate why Slimane’s colleagues at LVMH have the titles they do, too: Kim Jones is an artistic director at both Dior and Fendi, while Maria Grazia Chiuri and Silvia Venturini Fendi are both creative directors at Dior and Fendi, respectively—indicating that these roles might not be related to seniority.

In an attempt to achieve official clarity, I asked a Louis Vuitton representative if they could explain the difference between Pharrell and Ghesquiere’s job titles. In an emailed statement, they said, “Pharrell will have the same exact role as VA.” Which seems likely to be the case, but it doesn’t help us read any clearer into the difference. Because unlike Pharrell, Abloh’s official title was artistic director. 

What’s In a Name? Deciphering Fashion’s Inscrutable Job Titles

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