The invite to the Gucci men's show in Milan was a map, an indication that there would be treasure at journey’s end. It wouldn’t be new-era Gucci without a heavy dose of embellished, encrusted, burnished, twinkling bounty to lend a touch of fantasy to proceedings. And Alessandro Michele - the man who has so remarkably reinvented Gucci since he took over in January 2015 - didn’t disappoint, with his eclectic, more-is-more approach throwing together historical references, Seventies silhouettes, beadwork, embroidery, chinoiserie and everything in between. It was a dizzying, wholly seductive mix.
“I like the idea of a journey, like Marco Polo,” said Michele backstage. “I hate travelling but there are many ways to do it, whether in your mind, or in changing the tapestry of a chair, or through the pages of a book.” There was certainly something transportational about the green-hued venue and the feeling that you weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Even Dorothy’s ruby slippers somehow morphed into twinkling satin numbers on the geek-chic boys in dressing gowns, military coats, tuxedos and bombers that were all riddled with appliqué, embellishment, cartoon imagery and riotous adornment. The military elements were inspired, said Michele, by the idea of Jane Austen naval officers returning home from lands afar (Michele is an Anglophile, staging his last show at Westminster Abbey), although Elizabeth Bennet may have taken to the smelling salts at the floral embroidery that snaked its way up the torso.
Michele is an unashamed maximalist, and you get the sense that he loves what he does - hurling disparate references at his moodboard and through some weird and wonderful alchemy, turning it into covetable clothes and accessories. And covetable they are; the Alessandro effect has seen sales rise by 4.8 per cent, at a time when the slow-down in the Chinese economy is causing a quiver at even the biggest fashion houses. Gucci’s journey into a brave new world has most definitely paid off.
Source: The Telegraph.com; Gucci.com Photos: Mitchell Sams