Gucci Fall 2016: The Saga of a Storied Italian Brand Told in a Nutshell

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The Gucci collection hewed to Michele’s now-lauded aesthetic, a kind of "magpie-effect" of hodge-podged retro-style clothes.

The people that really run the fashion industry – namely conglomerate heads and CEOs – do not care about creative storytelling, they care about numbers. Yet, at Gucci, there is a fascinating story that has developed where both the business and creative side are inextricably intertwined, and it starts with a new chapter in the brand history, penned by co-authors Alessandro Michele and Gucci’s new CEO, Marco Bizzarri.

In December of 2014, Gucci underwent a radical transformation. It started with the tumultuous exit of President and CEO, Patrizio di Marco, and his partner and Creative Director, Frida Giannini. A similar shake-up had occurred at the brand a decade prior when Tom Ford and his business partner Domenico De Sole left Gucci for good. Although Giannini was talented at updating house codes, like her retooling of the classic ‘Flora’ print, she hadn’t done much to change the aesthetic of the house that had been set forth in Ford’s days. To the world, Gucci is where you went to buy sultry, provocative clothes that dripped with expensive pride, but sales had declined sharply under di Marco and Giannini’s leadership. As the two departed their decade-long roles at the brand, Bizzarri was tapped as the new CEO, and immediately tasked with finding a new Creative Director.

Although Bizzarri was shopping for a star designer, he found himself having long conversations with Michele, who at the time had worked at Gucci for 12 years and was the head of accessories. Bizzarri’s desire was to restore the brand’s former glory, to make it “the show of the season” that everyone talked about for months after. In Michele, he found his savior – someone who had so thoroughly developed his own vision for the direction of the house that he was able to radically transform its aesthetic with his debut womenswear collection for Fall/Winter 2015, which came together in a matter of weeks. As it stands today, Bizzarri got his wish: Gucci is the most hotly anticipated ticket on the fashion month calendar.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Michele is a real-life antique collector, with expert knowledge of Gucci archives and house codes. He is also someone with an innate cool factor and understanding of what “cool” means to other people. He is a risk-taker who took a leap of faith and landed in the cushy embrace of success and industry accolades, which are reflected by the real-world correlative of increased sales at Gucci. He is someone who for his Fall/Winter 2016 show invited the participation of graffiti artist, GucciGhost, who had long appropriated the brand’s double-G logo in his street art. Instead of issuing GucciGhost a cease-and-desist, Michele invited him to take over the brand’s Snapchat, decorate the venue walls, and collaborate on logos for the collection itself.

Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2016 wardrobe zipped through a spin-cycle of references from the past, from the Renaissance Era to the Swingin’ 60s.

The collection itself hewed to Michele’s now-lauded aesthetic, a kind of “magpie-effect” of hodge-podged retro-style clothes that are both voraciously decorative and eminently desirable. They are paired with mawkish hipster glasses, netted chapeaus, pearl knuckle-dusters, and leather shoppers with GucciGhost’s handiwork on display. They are what Margot Tenenbaum would wear, but somehow cooler – self-aware, but not ironic.

This time around, graphics were punchier, and volumes were amplified. His vintage-loving magpies were hyperbolically arrayed in everything from pink fur-trimmed metallic bombers and crimson ruffled capes to golden dresses topped with armor-like jeweled fringe. Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2016 wardrobe zipped through a spin-cycle of references from the past, from the Renaissance Era to the Swingin’ 60s. It was dizzying and glamorous, as if Gucci’s men and women were headed off to the party of the millennium, each trying to outdo the other in terms of extravagance and historical tribute. Ultimately, this collection held a mirror up to the way kids dress nowadays – with no clear allegiance to any one brand, style, or trend, they prefer to mix their wardrobes up as they see fit. Maybe now they’ve found one place to satisfy their desires, and if that’s the case, expect Gucci’s sales to climb even higher.

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