Gucci Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Full Fashion Show

Does it seem wrong to review the Guccishow from backstage? Well, whatever, Alessandro Michele surely won’t mind. “I’m trying to follow my rules, not fashion rules,” he reasoned, pacing serenely between the aisles of racks on which the Fall collection was poised to be worn by roughly 120 girls and boys. (Wait! More of them in a minute.) Michele wasn’t making any claims that his first amalgamated female/male collection show for Gucci was a bolt from the blue, a revolutionary turn against the last season. On the contrary, he finds it easier to focus when both sexes are considered together. “This is always my world. I want to swim in my ocean,” he said, wearing a yellow Gucci-logo T-shirt and a pale baseball cap as he showed people around. He feels it’s wrong to have to “tell a new little story” every season, he said. “We need to let the world not go so fast. If you’re doing that, you don’t reflect, and in these times we need to reflect more.”

Each outfit, sans models, was an exhibition in itself, with its own decorated box for shoes, bags, and jewelry standing at the ready. The boxes themselves were printed with Dutch Old Master pictures of parrot tulips cascading from vases, with iPhone charger leads Photoshopped in. On the sides were hand-scrawled words written by the artist Coco Capitán: “What will we do with all this future,’’ read one phrase. Around a corner was a poly board pinned with photographs of the tribe of unconventional-looking young people who had come together to wear the outfits—geeky boys, girls with shaved heads, and wildly flicked and structured ’80s hairdos, various glasses-wearers. The cast of Michele’s “real” types has succeeded in rebooting the fortunes of Gucci. “I don’t care about models; I care about faces!” he declared. “It’s like, a way to show humanity. It’s funny, I think the era of ‘models’ is ended.”

You only have to look at Michele’s Instagram account @lallo25 to see the things that obsess him visually: the formal gardens of Italian and English country houses, Renaissance paintings and classical sculptures, his friend Jared Leto, and dog Bosco. He loves England and the idea of the aristocratic English-eccentric. In a few weeks’ time, he will return to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since the 16th century, to join the opening of an exhibition about the history of costume in the house, which Gucci is sponsoring. All these simultaneous influences—the gardens, the geeks, the contemporary multilayered cultural consciousness of it all—goes into what Michele designs. It’s a busy, rich, historically eclectic, printed, and embroidered collection of clothes and accessories maxed out with deluxe micro-details like crystal-embroidered edging, and flower-printed shoe inner soles only the wearer can possibly know about.

Every angle on what Michele does is a new rabbit hole of history to go down. The show invitation was a vinyl record—again with Capitán’s quote on the cover—a one-off pressing with an A-side of Florence Welch reading from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, and a B-side of A$AP Rocky reciting from Jane Austen’s Persuasion. On the runway, there were clutch bags, chained to manacle bracelets, in the form of an Austen book.

Michele habitually casts a subliminally strange, uneasy aura over all this when he comes to present it, always finding a dramatic device that puts some kind of film or filter between his audience and the show. The stylized nature embroideries, flower prints taken from Gucci scarf-print archives, and images of butterflies and moths on bags and sweaters could have looked straightforwardly sweet and charming in the open air and daylight. Instead, the show took place encased in a tubular steel-girdered walkway, the models (or what shall we call them—the Gucci tribe?) separated from the audience by plexiglass. Around they walked, completely enclosed in their own artificial environment, something oddly reminiscent of a piece of ’70s airport design.

Behind them was a giant set of a black pyramid, topped with a weather vane. The strands of Michele’s taste for surreal, occult-tinged symbolism are hard to fathom. He likes to throw things off, here and there—this time, by encasing some looks in sparkling crystal bodysuits, faces and all. Not that it really matters. All the complexity he marshals at Gucci ultimately ends up as straightforward, commercially attractive clothes and accessories, intelligible Italian luxury desirable the world over. He bowed east, to Gucci’s Asian following, using Japanese paper parasols, and references to 17th- and 18th-century chinoiserie. He bowed west, to Hollywood and New York, in the slew of romantic ’70s- and ’80s-influenced long gowns, plainly destined to proceed straight off the walkway and onto the Academy Awards red carpet and the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, come the Met Gala.

In the labyrinthine text of his press release, Michele compared his role to that of an alchemist. True enough: All that he touches has turned to gold for the Gucci parent, the Kering group. As he ran out along the runway, François-Henri Pinault and his wife, Salma Hayek, led a joyous standing ovation, as well they might. In dark days like these, infecting people all around the world with the desire to buy, despite everything, is indeed rare commercial sorcery.

By Sarah Mower

“It’s a big trip in my personal garden which is mine but also Gucci’s, and it expresses all the ideas of me, all of my obsessions,” Alessandro Michele.

Looking at the first unified Gucci fashion show, the Women’s and Men’s Fall Winter 2017 Collection. Inspired by the Alchemist’s Garden, creative director Alessandro Michele’s lineup included ruffled gowns and suiting strewn with floral prints, T-shirts scrawled with artist Coco Capitán’s writing and accessories laden with animal hardware.

Music Credits:
FW17 Variations I – Robert Lewis
FW17 Variations II – Robert Lewis
FW17 Variations III – Robert Lewis
FW17 Organ Variations – Alex Metcalfe
FW17 Modular Variations I – Emre Ramaznoglu
FW17 Modular Variations II – Emre Ramaznoglu

Gucci Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Full Fashion Show