Ever since Frida Giannini’s sudden departure from Gucci in January, the eyes of the fashion world have been on Alessandro Michele. After all, it was only in March that the guy was thrust into his role as Creative Director at breakneck speed with only a month to design and prepare his womenswear debut for the label. Fast forward to today however and Gucci’s new Main Man has achieved the impossible; he’s shot two campaigns and directed two runway shows, all within six months.
In the hands of Michele, Gucci is colourful and wonderfully retro, there are distinct themes to each layer of the collections he has so far produced, calling upon the Gucci archives for inspiration. The 2016 Cruise collection was unveiled this week in New York and in a similar vein to Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, the collection was vintage in feel and at times felt like a tribute to the Gucci of the 90’s. Even the invites and pre-show literature were retro in styling.
From the Granny Chic chevron dresses which opened the show, to the block heeled, fringed loafers in metallic jewel tones, the collection was unashamedly retro androgynous. The opener, a retro vintage chevron midi dress with gold loafers, sets the theme for the show. Models stride across the street to the show space and walk the makeshift runway decorated with patterned rugs, it all adds to the retro ambience of the show. Accessories are adorned with serpents and metal detailing, models wear glasses in a nod to the Geek Chic movement and their fingers are loaded up with statement rings. It’s clear that Michele is a sucker for detailing; tiny pleats, lace, floaty fabrics, and lots of flowers are all features of the 2016 Cruise collection.
There’s a delicious juxtaposition of textures repeated throughout the collection, whether it’s suede paired with lace for a prairie girl chic vibe, or fur and brocade for an opulent aristocratic look. Rewind back to March when Michele unveiled his Fall Winter line with a similar retro vintage theme, although this was poorly received by a minority of the fash pack, it’s almost as if Michele is addressing the haters through this collection, by extending the theme beyond Fall Winter and into his Cruise collection to let them know it’s his and he’s sticking with it.
Dresses were playful and gorgeously kitsch, with serpents, tigers, dragonflies and birds adorning dresses in various guises. The Cruise collection seems resolute and assertive; as if Michele has relaxed into his talent and his niche and now understands how to manipulate it. The collection drew admiring glances from the FROW, with the likes of Anna Wintour to Karen Elson and Dakota Johnson (rumoured to be the latest Gucci muse) who both wore looks straight off the Gucci runway, nodding in approval.
The Gucci of the past was driven by sex and attitude, under Michele, the new Gucci is driven by emotion. Sure people will say that we’ve seen it all before and that there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but if it’s groundbreaking you want, then head over to Graduate Fashion Week where young designers are pulling out all the stops to be noticed. This is different, it’s softer, it’s commercial and realistic. Every item in the collection has the wearability factor and there’s something in there to suit every personal style.
We all know that fashion is cyclical, what goes around comes back around and that’s not a bad thing. what Michele has created here is a commercial offering in what appears to be his signature eclectic retro style. With a flair for modern vintage styling and geek chic, it’s a whole new direction for the brand who once ran a campaign with the signature ‘G’ shaved into a models pubic hair.
Dakota Johnson, Alessandro Michele, Karen Elson
I don’t know about you but I like it. These are exciting times in fashion and with Michele at the reigns, Gucci is in safe hands; I’m interested to see what Michele brings us with his Spring Summer 2016 collection this September, whether it’s more of the same, or whether the story unfolds a little and we see more of Michele’s creative flair. For now though it seems, Michele has found his niche and is firmly nestled in it. The high street will spawn a million tributes to this uber wearable, vintage inspired collection in the coming months and even if you didn’t plan to, we’ll all be wearing something that resembles it.
View the 2016 Gucci Cruise Collection here: