It’s ironic that the most Instagram friendly collection should be inspired by the most offline of realms. Books - does anyone still read them? This collection should be encouragement alone. This season, Alessandro Michele is inspired by literature and fables. The collection’s show notes expressed the notion that 'Peter who cried wolf' was the start of literature. Not when there was a wolf to truly report, but when there wasn’t one at all. Stories, confusion – and perhaps a downright juicy lie – is what this collection is seemingly embroiled in. Is it even about the now and the next? Or is it single handedly the most historical collection ever made? Perhaps it's both.
A coat with zebras leaping across it reminds one of the African fable: 'How the Zebra got his stripes' - trying to get water from a pool, the poor thing apparently went and got scorched by a fire. The blue metallic tulle, which ran down in waves, made a fantastically ridiculous headdress and represented a theatrical effort to throw some water on the situation. Stories are how we try and make sense of the world. But for S/S 17, Gucci wants to further confuse - rather than inform.
In the show notes, Alessandro Michele talked of each piece being a 'magic lantern' that didn’t reflect reality, but rather acted as 'a distorting mirror'. There was a gothic vibe to the collection, and the word 'phantasmagoria' was referenced. Judging by the presence of 18th century horror theatre, Michele was seemingly inspired by its ghoulish projections cast on a wall – and how people generally revel in scaring themselves silly.
Gucci’s S/S 16 'Carte du Tendre' dress was re-collaged and remapped for S/S 17, as a monochromatic patchwork blouse and skirt. Layered with woodcut prints, and a calligraphy scribe – Galliano’s infamous newspaper print and logo felt close at hand. Words such as 'cemetery', 'future' and 'armour' were written on belts, whilst one coat looked like a poison pen letter or blood written love note, written in red across white fur. The show’s audio soundtrack included William Blake’s poem My Pretty Rose Tree, which was read over and over by a female voice. Talk of jealous roses that will only show you their thorns also tapped into Blakes’s notion that a woman could be possessed as a flower. Accessorised with geisha style chopines, reading glasses, chinoiserie fans and bow-tied stockings, Gucci’s women were laden with the symbolism of being both open and closed books. Ruffles were this season’s thorns. Get past them if you can.
There aren’t enough words in War and Peace to describe the clothes or looks piece by piece. But it was interesting to observe the evolutions taking place within the house. A longer, more louche line rendered 1930s Chanel style cardigan suits, and the sequin clicked sunray lines on dresses and tops evoked the Egyptian sun god Aten. The founder of Krizia – Mariuccia Mandelli - died less than a year ago, and it’s fascinating to watch Alessandro Michele use her animal motif sweaters as inspiration. With the addition of the sun rays shooting from feline heads, we are worshipping cats, just as we did 3000 years ago.
A new, sporty energy that zoomed through the collection came with the addition of skull caps, goggles, trompe l’oeil sock boots and booming furs. Prada A/W 11, 1960s Pierre Cardin and 1920s aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart came to mind. Lost between the chapters of a book, other girls looked deliberately caught between the worlds of Iris Apfel, Jane Austen’s gothic satire Northanger Abbey - and Millais’ Ophelia. Others looked ready for a medieval disco.