It was all there.
Gucci’s iconography under Alessandro Michele could not be missed — his love for antiquity, his quirkiness, his gender-fluid elements, which were heightened by the location, the Capitolini Museums in Rome. And his message was even more powerful this time, as the designer was waving the flag for freedom.
“I feel the need for freedom, at times I feel like I’m suffocating, and I need to launch messages through fashion. I have found freedom through fashion ever since I was a child, whenever it was necessary to speak up,” said Michele, happy but admitting exhaustion after the show. “After all, changing our aspect is an indication of our feelings and those that do our job have antennae, and every time that someone tries to break them, I realize that they become longer in a proportional way.”
Inclusivity has long been a priority for Michele and, once again, the designer said he “insisted on individuality,” pointing out that the casting was even more complex than usual, as he “saw almost double the number of people” compared to other shows. “It’s a parade of humans, a bacchanal under the passing of the subway in Berlin,” he explained.
As cryptic as it may be, that parade was entirely in sync with Michele’s sensibility as he also said that “the dress is not inanimate, it’s connected to the body that wears it.”
One objection could be made: It was dark (which seems to be becoming a Michele signature for his shows) and attendees were actually encouraged to use flashlights provided to illuminate the fashion parade passing by. Yet Michele had an explanation for that, too. “To work in fashion is like being an archaeologist and discovering things, the flashlight helps find things that you can’t see and with it you decide what to see and where to point the light — especially here in this place of wonders that hides objects found in the dark. When I was a kid, I didn’t like luna parks or soccer, and I came here with my father. Then and now, I love archeology and art, I am obsessed with the antique world, it’s like an illness to which there is no remedy, I believe.”
There were plenty of references to Rome — both ancient and modern — from a bright red cape embroidered with gold leaves to a severe black gown reminiscent of a cassock. At the same time, fast-forward a few centuries and, lo and behold, Mickey and Minnie Mouse popped up on a sweater or a silk tank top. While there were plenty of strong-shouldered looks that are on trend for today, Michele was, as always, heavily influenced by the Seventies, a key decade for women’s lib — another topic that helped inspire the designer. Case in point: A soft white dress embroidered with a uterus, blooming with flowers.
“The uterus is a mysterious and wonderful part, we can imagine it with flowers, like a garden,” said Michele, addressing “recent news, but women should really be respected and considered as much as men, they should have freedom of choice, even to interrupt a pregnancy, which is the most difficult one.” He segued into another issue top of mind for Italians now — immigration. “The life of people turns into numbers, or something that annoy us, but I am annoyed when freedom is taken away from people who can’t get on shore.”
Gucci was one of the early luxury brands to ditch real fur and Michele played with fake fur on dramatic capes or brightly colored wraps over lingerie looks. The brand has also upped the ante on the red carpet and Michele’s feminine gowns with intricate drapings or embroideries as well as the featherlight pleated chiffon designs did not disappoint.
The men’s looks included a checkered tunic with matching pants; tartan shirts tucked into flared corduroy pants and a mint green suede shirt with matching pants — all infused with a Seventies vibe. The brand offered more inclusivity with a tailored sage-green pantsuit, checkered coat and classic loden coat — wish you kept yours stored away? — as well as super-embellished fluid pants with a sequined tiger or a spiked headpiece worn with a chic black moiré dress that opened the show.
Then there was one shirt that bore the Gucci worldwide logo — which, in the end, said it all.