In 2014, Kering announced that then Gucci creative director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco would be ending their ten year tenure at the Italian brand. Giannini was to remain at the brand until the autumn/winter 2015 womenswear collection was presented but that was stunted in early January when it was announced she had left the brand already - a month early. With five days until the anticipated menswear show, a new face had to step to the fore; Alessandro Michele. Having worked in the design team, alongside Giannini, Michele had 5 days to complete the menswear collection along with the in-house team. Finishing what his predecessor had started, Michele presented his menswear collection to critical acclaim. Blending the lines between genders, the collection was lauded by fashion’s elite. The new reign at Gucci had begun and it was oh so refreshing.
Following January’s display, the newly appointed creative director had 20 days to finish what was to be Giannini’s last womenswear collection. Michele had an industrial, metal runway installed at the show space. The music purred eerily and the new Gucci girl emerged. She was certainly nerdier than Giannini’s high-power glam but it was a distinct and nice change of pace. The collection was young and spirited. She wore midi-length skirts and short-hemmed dresses. Her shirts were sheer and her dresses fashioned with ruffles. Pussy bow blouses and glasses and berets. Everything was undeniably romantic. You can see thirties and forties vibes but Michele was quick to rebuke nostalgia. “I don’t want to be nostalgic,” he said to LOVE (on sale now). Michele is "in love with modernity” but does say it can “come from the past”.
This was the appetiser to Gucci in the, clearly talented, hands of Alessandro Michele. Like Massimo Giorgetti’s “Pilot Episode” at Emilio Pucci, this collection was a glimpse into the new Gucci. This rebirth couldn’t be more timely as I haven’t been inspired by a Gucci show since fall 2012, if not before that.
In June, Michele presented his first collection—Resort 2016— that he designed entirely. Chanel took us to Seoul, South Korea. Dior hosted their show in Theoule-sur-Mer. J.W. Anderson shuttled a number of editors to Cambridge. The jet-set arrived in Palm Springs. Michele had his turn to host a spectacle and he chose Chelsea, an artsy neighbourhood of New York City. Actress Dakota Johnson, and directors Sam Taylor-Johnson and Gia Coppola were front row at the show, in a garage which opened to a grand, decadent carpet. Designer solidarity was also in play with Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra front row. The offering would have to be something special for such a star-studded runway. Once again, Michele delivered. He did what he perfected for fall. Gender-blending geek-chic with masculine, and feminine edges.
Appearing in stores in November, the Resort collection was comprised of 62 impressive looks that brought a Tumblr teenager raiding her grandmother’s (or grandfather's) closet to mind. Some things were a tad oversized. Certain looks looked like they were taken directly from the past but oozed modernity, something that Michele seeks in his clothing. Alexandra Elizabeth’s russet cropped bomber-cum-cowboy jacket with its red collar and bottle green and purple accents was paired with a red and white skirt, the white being lace. Earlier in the collection a lilac and purple lace dress with a pleated skirt and a floral neckline took to the runway. The floral embroidered neckline was something we saw in his previous collection. As was the pleating. Look 34 was an 80’s-inspired full lurex outfit. Lurex was used in the fall 2015 collection in a similar way; a pleated skirt with a cinched waist. The correlations between the two collections remind me of an Instagram theme. One picture carries onto the next. They’re slightly different but maintain some of the same components, being that texture, colour and/or filter. I think that is a good thing that is perhaps slightly poetic.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Assuming that the new Gucci girl is intelligent and sensible with a dash of naiveté doesn’t seem too far from being wholly incorrect. The girl is precocious, experimental. She’s sexy. I’ve gathered all those thoughts from the Fall 2015 and Resort 2016 collections. They’ve told me a story and that’s something that not a lot of runway shows can do. It’s lasting and impactful.
On Monday, Kering issued their results for the first half of 2015. Gucci’s sales for Q2 were up 4.6% in comparable currencies. This increase in sales was an improvement from Q1. Positive sales must be a relief to Michele, though they will not come as a surprise to many. The new creative direction has obviously been taken to nicely.
Presently, Michele is working on his Spring 2016 womenswear collection for the historic brand, to be shown during Milan Fashion Week in September. His stamp is firmly placed on the house. His reign is already more memorable than his predecessor. He had to work under extreme conditions to produce his first two collections. 5 days for menswear, 20 for womenswear. When asked by LOVE how he managed it, the designer had a simple answer: "fashion doesn’t need time, it needs a vision”. Mr. Michele has that vision Gucci was lacking.
Photo Credits: Runway images: style.com/Ad campaign: fashiongonerogue.com