It may be the first major show of Milan, but we already know this will be not only one of the stand out shows of this city - but the entire season. Alessandro Michele is relentless in his pursuit, as he continues to establish the new world of Gucci. The show notes were more a theoretical rationale for his current ways of working than a seasonal story. Citing Deleuzian philosophy, Michele took the conversations at A/W 16 menswear and used another metaphor to make the same point for womenswear. This time it was musical Rhizomatic scores, which are so apparently nonsensical that they create ‘multiplicity through a constant change of expansion zones.’ One certainly felt this in the way the collection was structured - in the fact that there was no structure. Corresponding looks were split and haphazardly jumbled. Thank goodness for a black tailored suit – and some menswear looks. They a) gave one a breather and b) provided some much needed punctuation. Clothes, colours, textures and fantastical, irreverent accessories - which included a sequin owl cap and Graffiti spray painted bag by GucciGhost - were literally flying down the runway, at a rate of knots.
Michele has mastered the art of making clothes that make people feel intellectual - whilst also being seriously desirable and playful. This show was just as much about what was taking place off the runway as it was on. So many attendees were wearing these clothes! Granted, there was some FROW gifting going on, but there were swathes of young girls outside dressed head to toe in the stuff. The wonderful thing? None of it looked dated - it just looked like the new, seasonless Gucci. On a sustainability tip, this is what luxury should be about. With a label like Prada, for example, her prints - and pieces in general - are so collection specific, that if you see a woman in the street wearing it, she looks strangely relevant - yet ironically and immediately passé. With Gucci's collections being seemingly without theme, women are free to just keep investing in an aesthetic, which is nothing other than Gucci. This season, I personally would have liked a bit more structure to the show - as I do think it's possible to tell a story without heralding a new time sensitive trend. Look what he did with La Carte du Tendre, last season. That was a genius example of how to keep things open yet also pursue a contained line of enquiry.
In 1991, David Bowie said that many people now forget depth, and are just ‘surfing the chaos.’ Michele might be counting on us seeing chaos at Gucci – when in fact, we just need to get our history books out. One case in point was the designer’s continued use of the leg-of-mutton sleeve. This silhouette - with a built out shoulder - started in the Renaissance, re-emerged in the Victorian era, got picked up by Schiaparelli in the thirties (and subsequently Hollywood’s costume designer Adrian), and then finally came back with a bang in the eighties. This season, Gucci didn’t just present this sleeve within all of these contexts. Straight looks from each of these eras – sometimes without the sleeve - were also on show. Eighties masterminds, who trail-blazed the same history of this sleeve and silhouette – via decadent fabrications and monochromatic looks – were also present. Namely, Romeo Gigli, Thierry Mugler and Christian Lacroix.
Postmodern washing machine this most certainly is - but decontextualised? No. Ironically, the house of Gucci is contextualising fashion more than ever. The eighties was a decade when imagination and historical storytelling made high fashion dearly loved. Michele is reviving this spirit, and redelivering it to a new audience.