The pre-fall collections moved into a higher gear today as Gucci released Alessandro Michele’s latest collection… and it’s a real ‘collection’. 78 looks, rather than the 20 or so many labels send out for pre-season.
It continues the exuberant retro-boho-luxe-dressing up looks that Michele obviously loves (you can never accuse him of being a minimalist) but still feels fresh and – if you dig deeper than the surface impression– very wearable. The high street will be all over it, of course, but as Coco Chanel said imitation is the highest form of flattery. And retailers’Gucci-inspired pieces are unlikely to dent sales of the real thing.
So, in the absence of catwalk analyst extraordinaire and ex-colleague Sue Evans (all hail Sue Evans!) to point me in the right direction, what did I love most?
- Flora and fauna
Quirky placement prints and embellishment including cats, birds, butterflies, tigers, snakes (so many fantastic of snakes) and more. Sometimes mixed with equally quirky botanicals (assorted flowers and trees) these prints look like safe bets to be everywhere by next year.
- Decorated denim
Will it be as influential as the decorated denim Tom Ford sent out for Gucci’s SS99 collection? Maybe it’s time for a revival nearly 20 years later. Those flares are on my wishlist already.
- Statement shoes
Key pieces ranged from the comfort of flats like pom-pom trimmed pumps, the fur-lined mules that are already in-store or the loafers with pearl-studded low heels to killer heels with oversized studs, lip detail or power platforms (best with striped soles). These shoes are made to be seen.
- Casual luxe
Forget sports luxe and high-end athleisure, these are clothes for sitting around and doing nothing on a lazy weekend (as it’s Gucci, you might be sitting around on your yacht, of course). Think easy embellished sweats and tees in lace or with the collection’s signature prints, and a colour contrast satin bomber that works as well over an after-six maxi skirt or dress as a pair of jeans.
- Red carpet comfort
Occasion dressing learns to relax. It’s still floor-sweeping but these are dresses in which you can do normal stuff like breathing, sitting down, and moving quickly without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction.
- Accessory jamboree
Let’s never forget that the big moneyspinners for Gucci are its accessories. Here we get glittering sunglasses, shades with snakeskin and contrast black frames, beatnik berets in luxe fabrics or embellished knit beanies, gem and pearl-embellished rings, and neat ladylike concertina bags in exotic leathers or embellished monogrammed fabric. Love ’em.
- Cape crusaders
I’m a big fan of capes. Enough said.
- Power pantsuits
Is the pantsuit that’s been threatening to make a comeback for some time actually going to do it? Part of the problem with it regaining acceptance is that the pantsuit feel so, well, corporate. Alessandro Michele is trying REALLY hard to make sure it doesn’t feel that way with this collection but even with quirky accessories layered on, these suits can easily fit the corporate bill.
- Knit nonchalance
I never quite know what to say about knitwear – being one of those people whose sweaters turn bobbly the second I put them on and who always manages to wreck them at the first wash, I usually steer clear. Or I ask knit expert Sarah Barker. But she’s not here so you’re stuck with my opinions. These knits feel easy, relaxed and just a little nerdy. What’s I think is key are the details – the flora and fauna patterns, the fur trims and the unexpected motifs (snakes, a heart pierced by a knife) that stop you in your tracks and make you realise that these sweaters and cardigans are out of the ordinary and probably cost more than last month’s salary.
- 70s staples
Alessandro Michele’s predecessor at Gucci, Frida Giannini, may have been the biggest flagwaver for 70s style but given that he was her closest creative collaborator, he must have playef a big part in forging the look too. It’s clear he still feels a strong 70s influence. But this isn’t the cool side of the 70s, it’s a reworking of conservative, everyday looks like the fine pleated midi skirt (in a metallic finish), suburban maxi or ‘secretary’ dress.