January 2015: Unexpected characters take the Milanese catwalk by storm. Men in fur-lined, slip-on-loafers, wearing blouses and lace; women boasting colorful, frantically printed ruffles, hiding behind cinemascopesque glasses. Alessandro Michele has just presented his very first and very surprising show as Gucci’s creative director. The label, suddenly, is the talk of the town, on every fashionable lips, and quickly spurns into everyone’s obsession. Again.
And it has kept raising the bar since. Alessandro Michele has offered the fashion world eleven different shows, each with a unique, whimsical, and stimulating esthetic. Taking risks, sitting humor and glamour at the same table, Gucci has reacquainted itself with an opinion-shaping aura, and embraced its role as forerunner. Undeniably, in an industry which has steered towards the commercial side of things for several years, the 44-year old Roman is unabashedly daring: flared pants, ruffles, embroideries, wild tones – nothing’s too extreme for Michele.
Once the backdrop of an equally bloody and erotic saga, Gucci’s DNA had indeed nurtured its share of the outrageous. After a headline-worthy tragic event – which we’ll have the decency not to elaborate on – in 1983, Tom Ford was handed creative control of the House, embodying, during the following decade, the epitome of Porno Chic, birthing gasp-inducing shows, toying with virtue, unclenching minds – and cleavages. So in 2005, when appointed Creative Director, Frida Giannini sought a new way of empowering women, she naturally went for a less sexual, more refined, profoundly new female strength, turning to vibrant colors and delicate fabrics.
What of Alessandro Michele, you ask?
Snatched (by Tom Ford himself) from Fendi in 2002, he’d spent thirteen years evolving in Gucci’s studio before taking its reins. Hence the bang which his first collection for Menswear Fall/Winter 2015 represented, launching a revolutionary era for the House.
Flirting with eccentricity, conventions, androgyny, and mastering the Maison’s history, Michele brought down the walls, making room for fresh air, unraveling new creative lands, while at the same time lending a new bustling, flamboyant and polished voice to the brand and reclaiming its place under the spotlights.
For all the right reasons, on every street and every red carpet, Gucci stands again, and with omnipresence. From Florence Welch during the Grammy Awards to Carrey Mulligan at the British Independent Film Awards, from Jared Leto’s everyday-Gucci-wear to the always gagaesque Lady Gaga taking over the Super Bowl, 2016 has been all about Gucci. Welcome back.