Italian fashion’s new Pied Piper, Alessandro Michele has led legions of fashion followers down the road to eccentricity and androgyny. Witness his impact on countless runways since arriving at the helm of the Florentine house a mere year ago.
He didn’t change his tune for fall. If anything, he picked up the tempo, letting loose with bold color, busy patterns, dense embellishments and a freewheeling approach that is blind to gender, wearing occasion and modesty.
It added up to an exhilarating spectacle with a nice surprise: Without betraying his penchant for all that is fey and geeky, Michele blended in a bounty of more masculine elements, from cowboy shirts and jean jackets to skater shoes.
“I go on with this direction because it’s really me,” Michele said backstage. He may have been wearing a simple navy sweater and corduroy pants, but the rings on every finger, like talismans, were echoed on every model strolling through the vast runway theater, a carpeted salon bathed in red light and awash in swelling, cinematic music.
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The footwear offering was one of the largest we’ve seen out of Milan yet. The label’s horsebit loafer was updated in pinky plaid prints, some having kangaroo fur lining (meaning Gucci’s it shoe from fall ’15 is making its return). Squared-toe loafers had heavy gold studding. Skate shoes were also studded, while some had a chevron print in blue and yellow. Flat, leather strappy sandals proved mandals aren’t going anywhere.
Michele said Walter Albini, an iconic and forward-thinking Italian designer, provided the initial impulse for the collection, and he swiftly acknowledged its retro allure. “If you think about Gucci, the biggest and most powerful fragment is the Seventies,” he said.
There were echoes of Albini’s optical patterns in the quirky tracksuits – one paired with a Snoopy jersey; another in a glimmering Lurex knit – and the handful of women’s dresses, frothy and full-skirted.
But the granny cardigans, bow blouses, fancy pajamas, fur-lined slippers and Dame Edna eyeglasses were pure Michele, who has firmly charted Gucci’s more romantic and daring path. He widened his register for fall, parading a bounty of sexy, patterned suits with defined waists and flaring pants, and statement coats in upholstery brocades and lumberjack plaids, one stamped with an embroidered grizzly bear growling between the shoulder blades.
He flexed his muscles with an array of attention-grabbing accessories: loafers with pearl-studded heels, square tote bags embroidered with bumble bees, and the fanciest Peruvian-style beanies you will see next year on the slopes in Gstaad, tufted with fur, animal ears and Chinese dragon embroideries.
Michele simply shrugs as an explanation for the feminine touches he has brought to men’s wear, pointing to the gender fluidity that defines today’s generation. So he needn’t make any apologies for manning things up a bit.
“It’s only the way you want to look,” he said.