In the past two years, the fashion industry has gone through tremendous change as designers Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy and Raf Simons of Dior have been given the boot. However, the greatest transformation in the industry has been the appointment of Alessandro Michele who has singlehandedly transformed Gucci into the “it” collection. His long sleeved shirts, over-the-knee skirts and matching tights combination are less form fitting and show less skin than most Williamsburg attire.
How was he chosen to lead Gucci? Michele, an avid antique collector, was appointed creative director of Gucci in January 2015 after Patrizio di Marco and Frida Giannini were abruptly fired. In that short period he has caused a fashion revolution by producing covered-up attire that is more sensual than sexual-leaving a lot to the imagination. His clothing can be worn to Synagogue or an orthodox wedding without any alterations needed. Before he was chosen, rampant speculation abounded as to who would replace Marco and Giannini with names including Joseph Altuzarra, Riccardo Tisci and Tom Ford being floated around.
It came as a tremendous surprise when little known Alessandro Michele was chosen; a man who had spent 12 years working in Gucci’s accessories department with the last three serving as assistant to Giannini. Michele took over in January 2015 and was given just five days to put together a men’s collection to be shown in Milan. In 120 hours he created a collection that ushered in his ascendancy in menswear and continues to improve with each collection. Why choose Michele? After years of sluggish sales and mixed reviews the billion dollar behemoth named Gucci decided to head in a new direction and felt Michele had a more “contemporary vision.” Michele was tasked with being in charge of all of Gucci’s collections as well as its global brand image-a job five fashion veterans would have trouble performing.
He has taken the fashion world by storm with his “grandma chic” clothing-mixing prints and patterns with pinned bows and plaid hats-creating a look that is distinctively Gucci. The tiger sweaters, snake designs and starry dresses have injected a joyful whimsy into a fashion world that had become gloomy. The pared down sexy look of Tom Ford’s Gucci which caused a sensation in the 90’s has been turned on its head with Michele. The “maximalist” modest look debuted by Michele is a look that can be worn by the most religious individual. It is hard to imagine that Hollywood, which has become a glorified Burlesque show, would embrace his designs so enthusiastically.
Yet the fashion and entertainment universe is obsessed with all things Gucci. Even his fur loafers have become ubiquitous with both men and women of the fashion elite clamoring for this reasonably priced $995 luxury item. His new shoe designs allow you to put clip-on bows on pumps and stickers on sneakers. His consistent innovation is astounding. Moreover, the bags in navy blue and turquoise with bows, flowers and lions are coveted by the masses and are in the acceptable price range of $1,000-$4,000-especially compared to a $12,000 Birkin. Even his belts have gained traction and with a price point of $400-$1,000 they may soon supersede the omnipresent Hermes belt which starts at $800.
His dresses are astronomically expensive ranging from $2,000 for the most basic dress to upwards of five figures. However, everyone will compliment your Gucci and admire your commitment to fashion. He even collaborated for the past two years on a perfume called “Bloom” which will be making its debut shortly. How has one man been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time? Firstly, he relishes his job with an over-the-top contagious enthusiasm. More importantly “his Genius has no boundaries” akin to the prolific Karl Lagerfeld; and I dare say for the first time in decades we are seeing a designer of that caliber.
Born in Rome in 1972, this 45-year-old phenom studied at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome and started as Senior Accessories Designer at Fendi before being tapped by Tom Ford in 1992 to join Gucci’s London based Design Office. Since Michele’s rise to creative director he has received the 2015 and 2016 International Fashion Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards and the 2016 CFDA International Award-incredible achievements in a limited time period. His slovenly appearance only adds to his mythological status-his look is “Jesus meets heavy metal rock star in a Williamsburg cafe”. And in case you haven’t noticed, celebrities get photographed when they were in his modest garb-take note Emily Ratajkowski.
The first time he designed for the Oscars in 2016 was an astounding success. Brie Larson wore a flowy royal blue Gucci-needless to say she won the Oscar and best dressed. Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto love Gucci with Gosling wearing it to the Oscars, Cannes and numerous premieres.
And let’s not forget Beyonce who appeared in a $3,400 head-to-toe Gucci ensemble to visit her husband, Jay Z’s, office. Her pleated metallic midi skirt coupled with a blush colored Intarsia Merino butterfly wool knit sweater was the most talked about look of 2016-more than any of her sleazy ensembles. Moreover, when she showed up to a basketball game in a $20,000 Gucci kimono the press went wild. These modest looks may be part of the Hollywood shift to more demure attire. If you make money from exposing body parts like Nicki Minaj, the Kardashians and the Hadids you may never adopt this look (although Kim recently wore a sheer Gucci bra as a “shirt”). However, talented artists who want to be admired for something other than the size of their butt desire his attire.
Case in point, superstar Salma Hayek wears almost exclusively Gucci. Melania Trump made headlines when she showed up in a pink “pussy bow” $1,100 Gucci top to her husband’s 2016 debate. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Nicole Kidman’s Green Gucci sequined dress with a parakeet sewn into the plunging neckline which she wore to the January 2017 SAG awards. This dress had the Twitter universe in a tizzy and was largely applauded by the fashion police. This fearless design was paradigmatic of the label’s unapologetic move into high fashion with bold attire.
Celine Dion was recently photographed in a floral Gucci dress as well as normally barely covered Dakota Johnson. How have sales fared? In the first quarter of 2017, Gucci’s revenues increased by 50 percent-retail sales went up 34 percent and wholesale increased by 37 percent. It’s parent company Kering, reported Revenue of $3.9 Billion thanks in large part to Gucci-who even outsold Kering’s other lucrative Hedi Slimane Saint Laurent brand. If this past May’s resort collection in Florence, where the likes of Elton John, Dakota Johnson, Kirsten Dunst, and Salma Hayek turned up to applaud the extravagant Renaissance collection is a harbinger of things to come; then it is fair to say the unstoppable ingenue named Alessandro Michele has brought tzniut dressing to mainstream America.
By: Lieba Nesis
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