LONDON — “I hate the word unisex,” said Alessandro Michele in a talk with Alexander Fury on Monday night at the Victoria & Albert museum.
His line of work at Gucci has never been about making unisex clothes. Michele revealed that when it comes to starting a collection he always starts with a suit, which has traditionally been a constraining menswear trope that women adopted to signal liberation. For him though, it’s just an item of clothing — with no labels.
The Italian fashion luxury house sponsored the museum’s first major exhibition on menswear fashion titled, “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear.”
The exhibition is a celebration and dissection of how men’s clothing has evolved from the 17th century to present day, and features designs from Gucci and Thom Browne and spotlights contemporary designers, such as Grace Wales Bonner and Priya Ahluwalia.
“It means a lot for a younger generation,” Michele said of the importance of the exhibition to him.
“Going through the pieces that are not just mine, but seeing how powerful the idea of clothes are. It’s pretty interesting that in 2022, we are looking at the past to find the future, that’s the thing that moved me a lot.”
Michele’s eye for fashion has always been about costume design and displaying it on a stage. The brand has gone onto forging strong relationships with musicians such as Florence Welch, Elton John and Harry Styles, who recently collaborated with Michele on a capsule collection called Gucci Ha Ha Ha, a nod to their initials and the way they sign off their messages to each other.
“Music can represent people,” said Michele, adding, “They [Styles and John] love to experiment with new clothes and they are exactly the way you see them on stage.”
Right now, the designer is taking inspiration from watching fewer things in the world. “I’m inspired by the things that stay,” he said.
London serves as an example of that, as it holds a sentimental place in Michele’s life — it was the first place he visited when he was 16 and witnessed the freedom of the fashion industry.