The thing about Alessandro Michele is that if you’re a Hollywood/Upper West Side/Paris socialite, he doesn’t design for you. Feel free to buy Gucci, but you’re not who he’s envisioning when he designs his vintage – nerd – off-beat.
Known as “fashion’s alchemist”, Michele mashes up eras, references, patterns, even genders into maximalist creations of anything goes. All are welcome. Citing Elton John as his muse, Michele paraded in his maximalist, cross-decade, gender-binary trend, and most of us weren’t quite ready. I love the off-beat, but even I wasn’t quite ready.
Now Michele’s perspective is clearly more articulate on the runway, and more appreciated by a community by-and-large ready for him. There have always been pockets of the nerdy, the gothic, the vintage lovers, the cross-dressing and gender fluid. But now, these groups are venn-diagramming like crazy out of sub-cultures into multi-generations of individuals who care less about fitting in, and more about who they are as individuals. The lifestyle they live; the social statements they make; the ideology they espouse. Michele’s Gucci is focused on them. When heads are carried like bags on the runway, it’s safe to say the current Gucci is not quite the conventional idea of luxury.
For his Spring 2019 collection, he stuck to the macabre under-belly, showing the collection in Le Palace of Paris, an 80’s New Wave club – the exact subcultural reference Michele goes for. Even better, it was frequented by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. Though there was a creepy silent film with close-up shots of seemingly coked out models occasionally refreshing themselves with urinal water. Ever upping the weird factor….
Sequins, glitter, lurex, fringe, and feathers were the strut-makers of the compilation. Think Bianca Jagger and Debbie Harry hitting Studio 54.
Then came the Gucci standard geek chic and experimental mixing of high and low culture. The looks leaned heavily toward the 80’s, with some major shoulder action, ruffles, boxy silhouettes, and dated-so-bad-they’re-new-again prints.
Alessandro Michele has had a bit of time to develop and refine his vision, while we have had time to digest it. His hand has gained a confidence in fusing references, but that runway is still just as chaotic as ever.