In Defense of Gucci’s Prevailing Gucciness

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By now, it should be clear that Alessandro Michele is not changing up his well-honed, easily identifiable, and radically saleable aesthetic. So, why is it that season after season, fashion gatekeepers bemoan the fact that Gucci stays the course, and wring their hands over the brand continuing to serve roughly the same looks? You don’t see Gucci’s parent company, Kering, complaining. Gucci is so commercially successful that any expectation that the proverbial bubble will burst should immediately be laid to rest. Gucci fatigue might affect some insiders, but the consumer shows no sign of tapping out.

Let it be said, that the same people criticizing Michele don’t demand the same of other, more established houses, so the criticism tends to ring a little hollow, a little hypocritical even. While we’d never identify ourselves as Gucci apologists, the backlash that happens every season is starting to seem rather silly.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

Now that we’ve dispensed with the ire, it’s onto the fire and brimstone. For Cruise 2019, Gucci’s after-hours show at an Alyscamps burial ground in Arles, France – the first of a three part trilogy acknowledging France’s influence on the maison – was a suspenseful, gothic fever dream replete with a fire-lined runway. The provocative production, stoked by real flames, the hollow gong of bells tolling in the distance, and the vibration of deeply tonal sounds provided by the mournful ‘Lacrimosa’ soundtrack was an experience.

It was a lot, it was over-the-top, it was relentlessly, wonderfully, maniacally Gucci.

In the present day, runway productions have become less about the clothes and more about immersing yourself in a brand’s identity. For that reason, productions at the scale of Gucci’s presentation are becoming more common for seasons that typically get less of the marketing budget, i.e. Cruise. Gucci’s Cruise 2019 collection – with its impressive backstory, homage to Christian Lacroix (who grew up in Arles, France where the show was held), and fiery catwalk – was a familiar exercise. Michele’s tendency to remake vintage styles in more excessive fabrics and opulent embellishments and his manic styling practices were on full display again for Cruise 2019.

Once more, it was a journey through eras and epochs. There were frilled, silky Victoriana dresses, bewitching velvet capes straight from the tales of Brothers Grimm, leather disco dresses, fuddy-duddy wallpaper prints that Miss Havisham would have worn to tatters, Paris Hilton socialites with over-tan faces and enormous sunglasses, sequined club-kid sweaters, preppy leather cardigans, glittering emerald tracksuits, varsity jackets, and more. One element that lit up social media was Gucci’s Chateau Marmont branded items – a nod to the legendary Los Angeles establishment that has seen more wacky characters through its doors than a Gucci runway has ever contained.

It was a lot, it was over-the-top, it was relentlessly, wonderfully, maniacally Gucci.

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