If someone had told me one year ago that come Milan Fashion Week the most talked about show would be Gucci, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. That was before Alessandro.
After an 8 year tenure, Frida Giannini stepped down as creative director for the Italian luxury giant at the beginning of this year. She was swiftly replaced by Alessandro Michele, formerly head of Accessories at the house. When everybody was expecting a big name designer to be brought on board this felt like a bit of a curveball. But the gamble paid of and the new Gucci has rapidly become a critical success matched with positive early sales figures. Michele has not only brought life back into the brand, he has also put it at the forefront of the fashion conversation.
The theme for Spring 2016 was détournement which roughly translates to recontextualization. Imagine a dorky and slightly foppish teenage boy raiding his aristocratic grandmother’s closet for vintage treasures and you get the new Gucci collection in a nutshell. It does sound insane, insanely good that is.
Pussy bow blouses worn with softly tailored suits, extra short crochet shorts teamed with lace tops, suits in vintage tapestry motifs, a pastel blue studded leather jacket embroidered with birds and flowers… needless to say, feminine elements were aplenty in Mr. Michele’s spring offering. Moreover, there were almost as many girls on the runway as boys and one could have easily imagined the two swapping clothes.
Indeed, there is a wider conversation happening in fashion at the moment regarding gender and Michele has put Gucci at the center of this debate, making the megabrand more relevant than ever. What is quite clever about this Spring collection is that it summoned a specific type of femininity. The garments were not only referencing women’s clothes but old lady’s clothing.
Put it simply, there was the impression that those clothes had a history to them. Pieces you would want to cherish and pass on to the next generation. The recontextualization of those clothes on young boys is what made the collection subversive. Michele humourously played with the common fashion trope of how to make the old feel new. By adding gender fluidity into the mix, the show gained depth. No doubt this is challenging, but that’s what fashion should be.
Even though he might have been pushing boundaries, Alessandro Michele was also embracing the heritage of the house. Indeed, the double G logo was making a strong come back on belts. Nods to the seventies (i.e. Gucci’s heyday) were also numerous thanks to flare pants, yellow tinted frames and long trench coats in retro patterns.
Over-the-top? Maybe, but Gucci has never been an understated brand and nor should it try to be. In that respect, Michele’s vision is just as exhuberant as the Gucci of yore, if not as sexualized as the Tom Ford era. Taken apart, the pieces become less daunting and the regular customers will still appreciate the incredible craftsmanship behind the garments.
Fashion nowadays, for better or worse, has become trendless. It is less about dictating a look to the customer and more about giving him an extensive range of products that he can choose from and style according to his individual sense of style. The new Gucci is modern precisely because it taps into that need for individuality.
In other words, Alessandro Michele is bringing back the dandy for the 21st century. This man likes dressing up but is also social media savvy and has fully digested the vintage references popping up daily on his Instagram feed. Those pussy bows are starting to look very appealing…
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