As Gucci breaks records with an unheard of 49 percent revenue growth in the first quarter of 2018 ,$2.3 billion in sales, the fashion world is anxiously awaiting creative director Alessandro Michele’s next incarnation. One thing is certain, Michele has taken the luxury market by storm and practically reduced his competitors to rubble. Impresario and CEO Marco Bizzarri, who handpicked Michele in 2015, has given him free rein to work his magic. It is hard to fathom how one man can be in charge of the women and men’s collection, the global brand imaging, the furniture design, the perfume, the stores, shoes, and jewelry. It has become evident that Michele is more of an artist than a designer, the “Michele-angelo” of the clothing world-no pun intended. You rarely hear of Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler or any of the household names anymore it’s all about “Gucci, Guccy, Guccify.” Even Chanel’s iconic Karl Lagerfeld is beginning to look repetitive and mundane. Rappers, actors, socialites, men, women, teenagers, toddlers-everybody wants Gucci.
Leading up to Gucci’s Cruise collection there was much anticipation as to what Michele had in store; and he did not disappoint. In typical subversive fashion the show was held in an Arles, France cemetery with candelabras and fire lining the runway. The 400 guests were treated to a spectacle of 114 looks worn by the least conventional models. If you have millions of Instagram followers and a perfectly symmetrical face the brand has no interest. You won’t see a Jenner or a Hadid on the runway or anyone remotely resembling a Victoria’s Secret model. If you are a man with big bulges wrong show-willowy androgynous men who look like they have never seen sunlight are the desired “mannequins.” Distinguishing between the men and women on the runway is as difficult a task as trying to tell whether the fashion was crafted for a man or woman. Holding both shows at one time only increases the confusion and adds to the excitement. Each look contained so many fantastical elements it was hard to absorb upon first observation and I found myself reviewing the show dozens of times. Putting together an intricate collection of this kind with varied motifs and genres would seem to be an impossible task for a mere mortal. Utilizing the “Chateau Marmont” logo, the flowers, the gloves, ,the funereal reference “memento mori”, ran the risk of being kitsch and all over the place-that is in the hands of someone other than master Michele. Once again Michele wowed and astounded with his over-the-top designs. Opening the collection with a curious pink puff jacket and skirt with green tights combination worn by an odd looking woman with tight red curls and glasses who was frowning on the runway, was Michele’s way of warning this is not going to be your typical run-of-the-mill show where beautiful models with perfect hair and clothing strut down the runway. The next look had a man in a pink jacket and shirt with off green pants and shoes.
After the successful Met Gala religious themed extravaganza, Michele was obviously still in a religious state of mind as he utilized crosses, masks and capes throughout the fifteen minute show. A man donning a death mask made from pantyhose while of course attired in a Gucci print shirt was typical fare for this spooky show. Thankfully, there were joyful moments as well; such as the girl carrying a pink bouquet with a purple plunging velvet dress coupled with a blue star cape and pink hat-which was Harry Potter meets Elton John. His maximalist designs coupled with the odd color combinations of green with blue and red, or brown with black and pink left me baffled. The oversized collars from the 60’s with a man carrying a pink teddy bear and a female model with a pair of pink Gucci loafers sticking out of her floral bag-were whimsy at its best. Shell necklaces and earrings, dark glasses with different shades, sandals with socks, robelike jackets- Michele keeps us guessing. Some other trends introduced which have been lurking include seatbelt belts and buckles worn on the side of pants-something we will undoubtedly be seeing more of this season. Michele’s women are so covered they look like they stepped out of a nunnery or convent. In an age where boobs and legs are continuously showcased it is confounding as to how Michele has become a phenom with the millennial crowd. Michele concluded the show with an amorphous white Victorian gown adorned with a cross necklace- combining the religious and ghostlike elements of his collection with a nod to the tradition of marriage-a clever twist. When it was time for Michele to take his final bow the normally slovenly Michele appeared in a dapper floral Gucci jacket with a more kempt hairstyle-signaling his most astounding transformation of all might be into a seasoned Italian businessman.
The venue in France