Gucci wasted no time asserting its new aesthetic in the post-Frida Giannini era, parading a men’s collection for fall that was markedly younger and quirkier with ambiguous sexuality and romantic spirit.
Suddenly fashion — not Italian craftsmanship, not archival iconography, not the jet-set lifestyle — came to the fore. The eye darted to take it all in: the silk chiffon bow blouses, some sheer enough to reveal the tattooed flesh underneath; the Gucci loafers that morphed into mink-lined slippers; the shrunken military jackets with their deliberately too-short sleeves and furry cuffs.
The casting (wan, stringy-haired boys and four women sporting men’s looks), the runway set-up (goodbye spotlight, hello U-shaped industrial grates) and the music (intriguingly, the melancholic soundtrack from Tom Ford’s “A Single Man”) were all-new, too. A dozen members of the design team — including Alessandro Michele, heir apparent to the design throne — spilled out after the show. Shaggy-haired Michele bowed deeply and then put his hand to his forehead in a gesture of relief, for the group had worked around the clock to completely redesign the collection in the wake of Giannini’s early exit last week after nearly a decade at the design helm.
The show will surely be divisive in its unapologetic androgyny — and critiques gentle given the rush job at hand. Familiar Gucci fare — vaguely Seventies suits taut across the shoulders and demonstrative outerwear — mingled sometimes uneasily with shrunken sweaters, lace T-shirts and pajama-like pants.
Yet Gucci, one of the marquee names in Milan, was finally making a strong statement, addressing a new generation, and taking risks — tactics necessary to improve its flagging fortunes and eroding relevance in a fast-changing luxury landscape.
The show notes, no doubt hastily written and translated, trumpeted the show as a “point of departure” and a celebration of “the idiosyncrasies that define personal style today.”
Michele, the brand’s head accessories designer, certainly laid out an array of atypical Gucci accoutrements that befit the brand’s new arty, tender bent: Berets, knit caps, tortoise-shell spectacles, signet rings and suede messenger bags. Somehow, it felt like the first day of school.