Alessandro Michele’s a pretty clever guy. Not only has he driven the rebirth of a label that was finding sales growth elusive, but he’s also driven a major look (maximalism) to be Top Trend at present. And in the process he’s convinced the world to spend way too much money on bags, belts, boots, and a wardrobe full of stuff nobody actually needs, just to be part of the Michele gang.
And he’s done it season after season without having to radically change his chosen look since his first solo Gucci show back in January 2015 introduced us to the world at Mr Michele sees it.
So while the slightly creepy set design for his AW18 show in Milan this week may have drawn a lot of comments, and the models who strode the runway with replicas of their own heads under their arms, may have been an even bigger talking point, there’s no denying Gucci is a label that’s really all about the ultra commercial.
He’s found a formula and sticks with it. There may be fewer (or more) geeky pieces from one season to the next, there may be a varying number of logos, evening dresses, jeans, bags, totally impractical head coverings, or giant earrings… but it’s still essentially the same.
So what did the Gucci cash machine offer up this time round?
Print and pattern: Think exuberant Gucci florals worked as lively prints and encrusted embellishments, or tiny printed and embroidered roses that were much more delicate; the Gucci monogram reworked in varying colourways, or with metallic threads and as embellishment to glam up after dark pieces or add an extra style statement to coats and knits; leaf appliqués in leather and snakeskin; slogans and motifs such as the Paramount logo in sequins, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill on a multi-zip giant sweat, or the New York Yankees logo used almost everywhere; plus checks mixed in with everything, geometrics and zigzags, or quirky cartoon motifs.
Silhouette: Wide – at times – with strong shoulderlines either heavily padded or sloping. But even when not wide, the silhouette is still loose, with even the occasional defined waist not too aggressively cinched. The looseness of the silhouette lends it self well to the layering that was a feature of the collection. Long was key too – there were very few mini lengths with a more is more approach keeping the body largely under cover.
Key items: Tailored coats and jackets that convert into capes; gender-neutral pantsuits; slogan sweats; motif sweaters; slim and sparkling after-dark dresses shimmering with sequins or glimmering in subtler velvets; collegiate cardigans; PVC coats; pyjama pieces; lace hosiery; multi-strand necklaces; heirloom jewellery; ugly chic trainers; quilted mini bags; anything with appliqué crystals; sequin jackets cut casual or more formal; ultra casual pieces from shredded jeans to downbeat blousons or tracks pants but often dressed up with sequins.
To be honest that list could have come from last season or maybe the one before too. That’s the point about Gucci and Alessandro Michele – it’s fashion for fashion lovers, not season obsessives. It’s not tied in to an outdated idea that everyone’s going to change their wardrobe just because it’s a new season. Michele gives his customers compelling reasons to buy something new by offering them items that are quirky and different enough, while also being the same. But he never asks them to change their look every six months… that way lies madness.