In his short reign at the Italian powerhouse, Alessandro Michele’s kitsch gambling has transformed the once floundering Gucci into one of the scene’s most provocative big-players. Such has the commercial, as well as commercial, success under Michele been, that the company in fact decided to hold off on its usual end of season sales with the most recently stocked collection.
Michele showed no signs of slowing down in his bold ambitions to revamp the brand’s tarnished face, with his latest attempt coming in the form of a mammoth presentation of 71 looks during Milan Fashion Week A/W2016-17. The collection offered an immense range of sartorial, temporal and cultural references, matched, clashed and reinterpreted in innovative combinations, such as in one look, where a model with crimped hair sported a gypsy headscarf, a tuxedo lapelled jacket in sky blue satin, and a mint green silk dress of evidently Asiatic inspiration.
Favoured themes and eras of the designer’s repetoire were naturally revisited, among them street style, the flamboyance of the 70s, the sharp glamour of the 80s and even hints towards the Renaissance, though this perhaps less surprising when one reminds oneself of the house’s Florentine seating. Each reference was distinct and recognisable, inviting us to reflect upon the power of each symbol and code, and encouraging us to reconsider our perception of each one according to the new contexts within which they appeared. Far from simply smashing together numerous conflicting symbols, blindly appropriating them into the identity of this new Gucci, each was reinvigorated and effortlessly modernised.
A throwback to the muses of Boticelli, one of the stand-out looks was doubtless a floor-length dress, with a high collared black bust, billowing rose silk sleeves, a golden cumberbund and a flowing red skirt, printed with the cherubic figures of the era’s storied frescoes. Vintage 70’s sportwear met Harajuku Lolita inspired looks in floaty sugar-pink chiffon, streaked with polychrome flashes of fur… the list goes on. This combining of references, each one specific to a certain period or look, allowed a truly innovative approach to the paying of homage in fashion, shying away from the tendencies to root collections in specific contexts, with the novelty stemming from the courageous tangling and knotting of these roots.
But it wasn’t all about making new out of the old; the collection will perhaps be best remembered for the collaboration with esteemed graffiti artist “Gucci Ghost”, who took his spray can to bags and coats alike.
All images via Vogue Italia