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‘I Want People to Fall in Love With Gucci Again’: Sabato de Sarno Shares His Plans for the Kering Brand

This article originally appeared on Vogue Business. To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, sign up here.

“My first appointment with fashion was with Gucci.”

Sabato De Sarno is sitting on one of four Mario Bellini Le Bambole chairs in his Roman office with his dachshund Luce perched on his lap. It’s been “one month and 10 days” since he took over as creative director of Gucci, the $10 billion Kering brand. The little dog has made herself right at home in Gucci’s 17th-century Palazzo Mancini-Salviati headquarters, but De Sarno, a boyish 40 with a sensitive, thoughtful nature, is still feeling his way around — getting to know the teams, running product tests, and sitting down for introductory interviews like this one. He starts with a personal story about an early fashion purchase.

“I took the train to Rome, it was my first time in a luxury store,” he says on the July day we met. “I remember what surprised me was to see the people in the queue outside. I think I felt like my nephew does when I go to Disney with him now. It was emotional. When it was my moment to go in, I bought this jacket, a Tom Ford jacket. Velvet, deep red, with a black collar. I sold the necklace that my parents gave me to buy it. They don’t know that.”

Today he has a uniform of black T-shirts, black jeans and white Converse All-Star high-tops, but he still owns that Gucci jacket. “Now it’s very small for me,” he says. “I was a young guy, but I still have it because I love it.”

A graduate of Milan’s Istituto Secoli, with stints at Prada and Dolce & Gabbana before a decade-plus run at Valentino, De Sarno has been in fashion for 20 years, but prior to Gucci he worked behind the scenes and he was comfortable there. “This is a very new moment for me,” he says. “I’m a dreamer, but honestly I’ve never dreamed of something like this.”

By the time he bought the jacket, De Sarno knew he wanted to be a fashion designer. “I grew up in a small village in the south called Cicciano close to Naples,” he says. “And I was very interested in what people were wearing in the streets because it’s the first way that you communicate to other people who you are. This is when I started to think about creating clothes, because it’s about helping people to be themselves.”

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