Alessandro Michele, the new Creative Director of Gucci, may be an unknown name to many in the fashion industry, but he has been earning his stripes at the brand behind the scenes since 2002. His debut womenswear collection for Fall/Winter 2015 supported Gucci’s promise of a new direction. Not only did his inaugural collection demonstrate a departure from what the brand has produced in the past, but it was a complete 180-degree turn from the over-the-top sensuality of Tom Ford and the flashy, repetitive glamour of Frida Giannini. Gone is the Gucci woman, replaced instead by Michele’s Gucci girl. Gone are the glamorous total looks we’d come to expect from the brand, replaced instead by a collection of pieces – a collection that celebrated individuality.
Michele’s designs were incredibly youthful. His sexy librarians, nerdy schoolgirls, and gamine hipster girls and boys – most of the time it was impossible to tell them apart – looked like they were on their way through a subway station to a bookshop or a flea market. Gender assignment didn’t matter to Michele. Boys and girls shared some of the same looks, much like is the case in the real world these days. The more feminine looks included floating, floral chiffon dresses, sheer tops, and pleated skirts. Outerwear was similarly easeful, but a touch more glamorous, with fur coats covered in chevron stripes balancing out heavier Russian military trenches (the kind that you would pick up at a thrift store or flea market) accented with details like baby-blue and pastel-pink fur cuffs. With hair dyed at the tips, barely-there makeup, and librarian glasses, the models were all attitude. There was no eveningwear in the collection; instead, Michele focused on easy separates developed with little twists and oddities. Welcome to the new Gucci.
If you read an attempt to satisfy commercial requirements in Michele’s decision to explore everything from the masculine to the feminine, the naked to the covered up, and the bohemian to the hipster, you were probably not wrong. At the end of the day, this is an extremely wearable collection – one that could march off the runway and straight onto the shelves with little modification needed and one that comes just a few weeks after the brand’s previous Creative Director was ousted following years of declining sales. But, that being said, this was not just a commercial collection. It was an intellectual collection, of the kind that seems to have gone extinct on the runway in the past decade, and, following Patricia Arquette’s speech on gender equality at this year’s Oscars, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Michele’s ability to disconnect Gucci’s aesthetic from the work of his predecessors and reassemble it according to consumer-friendly, but sociologically thoughtful, fashions is the mark of a thinking designer.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree