Endless ideas of Paris exist. All of them are true, and all of them are false. To be in Paris is to experience its magic, filtered specifically through you, the observer. No one else can tell you what to feel or how to feel it. But the enchantment of the place gives way to unreliable narration. Maybe the glamour you saw was actually dusty up close or in a state of dismal disrepair once the rose-colored glasses come off. Trust no one that tries to summarize and neatly package the Paris experience – unless that person is Alessandro Michele, the wizard of wizened old objects made new again.
He’s an outsider at Paris Fashion Week this time, but his version of Paris is respectful to its history, its metier, its spirit, in a way that truly sees and understands the history of the place. If we didn’t know better, we’d think he had a time machine, capable of zooming into the past and soaking up its essence. He summoned that gift for fusing past and present with a sensational Spring/Summer 2019 collection, impressing upon his glittering piles of reworked medieval gowns and dapper suits a sort of haunted feeling.
This is why it was appropriate that the whole thing started off at Le Palace, where a blend of music, fashion, and underground culture makes it one of the most legendary “if these walls could talk” establishments in Paris. It’s where all the fashion greats used to mix and mingle with their muses. In the corner, one imagines the ghost of Yves Saint Laurent sipping a drink with Loulou de la Falaise. Behind them is Andy Warhol snapping a photo of Grace Jones as she stands on a table, roaring.
As guests filed into the cavernous Le Palace, a film started playing that made them shift uncomfortably in their assigned seats. It was resurrected, archival footage from an actual Italian experimental film circa 1970s, and it fit right in with the rest of the ghosts. To be equal to the ones who walked this place before, Gucci turned to its signature: excess.
While this is another in a long list of Michele’s freaks-and-geeks fashion catalogue, it’s exactly what his customer has come to expect.
That meant profligate sequins dripping from every surface in a prismatic array of colors, massive shoulders that bent the shape of the upper torso into a sphere, vibrant dresses that were more ruffle than frock, and gowns made from collaged panels of neon fabric trimmed in feathers. If that wasn’t enough over-the-top madness, perhaps you’d consider topping your look with a live parrot? Because that happened, too. While this is another in a long list of Michele’s freaks-and-geeks fashion catalogue, it’s exactly what his customer has come to expect.