Gucci Spring/Summer 2018: The Philosopher-King and the Rocket Man

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For Spring/Summer 2018, Gucci positioned itself as a philosopher-king. The show notes – paraphrasing Gilles Deleuze who was himself paraphrasing Andre Malraux – declare, “In this sense the act of creation…is also, and above all, an act of resistance.” A confusing word salad follows, one that insists that the collection resists the approval of an official authority, the “illusion of new at any cost”, conformism, fixed categories, boundaries, and monotony. It is a “hymn to self-determination” and “an invitation to be yourself”.

While these are beautiful ideas in theory, they crumble when applied to luxury commodities – a.k.a. what Gucci sells. It proposes a collection that is revolutionary in its effort to buck the status quo, and the price for participation is high.

In order to create his resistance, Alessandro Michele was tasked with providing “something for everyone” or a multiplicity of sartorial ideas that would befit any “self”. What better way to represent this idea than with a show that revived the old adage, “All roads lead to Rome” — in essence, a show that represented the intersection of many cultures and tribal codes. Guests were invited into a cavernous Gucci “museum”, surrounded by sculptures of Perseus, the Sphinx, Medusa, and more, in order to solidify blended world views.

Gucci Spring/Summer 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Even though the setting and the thesis of the show were new, the runway looks were familiar. From Michele’s first collection to the present, the new Gucci school of cool is littered with a hodge-podge of influences, clashing prints, logo-mania, hipster glasses, and stacks of eccentric accessories. Given Michele’s strong vision and unwavering core aesthetic, it will be hard to tell this collection apart from previous efforts. As such, it almost seems contradictory that a proposition of individuation and originality was pushed so hard by the show notes. Still, this is what the kids want, and Michele delivers.

That Gucci pretended this time around that it exists apart from the consumer cycle, that the collection is based on self-determination, is a lot of pretty words that amount to a hollow idea.

Instead of trying to parse what might be new and fresh to the Gucci cannon in this collection – although the reworked vintage “double” G logo was a pleasant sight – it’s easier to point out the personalities presented on the stage. In homage to the “Rocket Man” himself, Elton John, and his superlative stage costuming by Bob Mackie, there were lots of 1970s and 1980s references to sift through, as well as a smattering of John-ian sequined glasses that will look especially eye-catching on Instagram.

We also spotted Margot Tenenbaum in her dour mink coat, a Prince doppleganger in purple velvet trousers, Madonna wannabes, naughty schoolgirls, studious patriots, and loud tourists, each upholstered in an array of tacky-on-purpose accoutrements. There were ample strong-shouldered silhouettes that hailed from the 1980s, skirts crafted from multicolored snakeskin patchwork braided together like a double helix, nude body suits dotted with sequins and micro studs, and models who sported crystal-encrusted chin gear.

The brand will certainly end the fiscal year as the second biggest luxury brand in the world. With sales at an all-time high under new leadership, it seems that the anti-conformity message is a lark. Clearly, people are eager to shroud themselves in the illusion of new at any cost, to belong to that ineffably cool tribe of girls and boys for whom thousand-dollar price tags are no issue. That Gucci pretended this time around that it exists apart from the consumer cycle, that the collection is based on self-determination, is a lot of pretty words that amount to a hollow idea.

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