When a runway collection is presented the likelihood of it all going into production is slim. Generally, the standout pieces of the collection are produced and sold in stores and online. At Gucci Alessandro Michele presents up to 95 looks each collection. Surely some of it is only for the show. That’s not the case; everything presented in the Gucci collection can be found in one of the 502 outlets worldwide. The proof: Margot Robbie’s stylist Christina Ehrlich selected a store exclusive, that remained unseen by the press for an American morning show.
Gucci has always been about building a lifestyle for the rich man and woman. Tom Ford amped up the sex with his thrilling turn as creative director in the 1990s; Frida Giannini was a strange one, her Gucci was contrived sexuality—unimpressive in comparison. Not only was she unable to win over the press completely, Gucci under Giannini. and her partner, former CEO Patrizio di Marco, was unable to reach sales targets and the business side slumped. Enter the now fabled story of Marco Bizzarri and Alessandro Michele arrived to rejuvenate the Italian brand with an savvy fusion of business and creative minds. Sales recovered and the fashion industry has done nothing but rejoice. In the context of the Gucci label, it was revolutionary.
Is Alessandro Michele revolutionary in the context of fashion as a whole? Yes, he is. In the 2010s emerged the minimalist trend fronted by Céline, The Row, Victoria Beckham. Michele is the antithesis to this with an utterly maximalist approach that celebrates flashiness and loud self-expression. Michele has many sources of inspiration: film, fashion, art, literature, history. To pick up on the latter—history—Michele is avidly cites historical references as his inspiration for his collections. They offer depth and meaning to the excess of clothing items. The punk subcultural movement that electrified London in the 1980s, or even the Renaissance (which is akin to Michele’s creative directorship) are prime examples of endless sources of inspiration.
It should come as no surprise that for the travelling circus of pre-collection presentations Michele decided upon London as the resort 2017 location. While he could’ve opted for a warehouse, like he did in Brooklyn the previous year, or a high-rise building with panoramic views of London’s cityscape, Michele thought big! Westminster Abbey, no less, is the venue Michele wanted. Gucci’s communications team must’ve been left gobsmacked with that task. They managed to pull off the massive feat and acquire the monumental location, which has held the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, Princess Diana’s funeral in 1977, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. The cloisters was the suitable section within the venue for the show. Custom designed cushions in emerald green, hand-embroidered with various animals, were placed on every seat—virtually every guest assumed them to be a parting gift. Gucci girls Soko, Elle Fanning, Bel Powley were perched front row, representing a new era of muses.
Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II in palatial surrounds. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood developing punk on the King’s Road. Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare defining British literature. Those were six figures that Michele imbued in this collection.
The final product captured the madness and eccentricity associated with British style. It sounds rather gimmicky and cliche, and in certain instances it was. You could help but enjoy yourself as you watch ninety five looks unfold before your eyes, each almost louder than the previous, culminating in a beige trench coat, printed skirt and top, slip-on heels and calf-high socks—a bit naff, but perfectly equipped for the often unforgiving British weather.
There are so many aspects to British culture that Michele touched on to enrich his sprawling collection. There were lion motifs, the rich florals, flaming reds, Scottish tartan, royal inspirations, Union Jack prints, odes to Vivienne Westwood—in the back of your mind you had images of cultural references, Queen Elizabeth I, the Punk movement, etc.
Cruise/resort collections that travel often bring out the cliched overkill of fashion references. England’s been tackily, especially in its own tourist memorabilia shops in the bigger cities, but also in fashion and in campy films. Michele drew out the tropes but he made them perversely provocative, something that he does well. It is campy, overtly loud and widely eccentric, but simultaneously it remains luxurious and perfect for any location.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com