Gucci S/S 2016

The importance of being Michele

Men in lace, jacquard and kicking fabrics; women in eel skin and literary agent glasses. All of them with one obsession – to look beautiful, individualistic and ever so slightly deranged.

Welcome to the gorgeously eccentric world of Gucci under Alessandro Michele – whose muses and heroes are both today’s bohemians and yesterday’s tragedians. The dandy foppishness of Oscar Wilde, the shaggy romanticism of modern Brooklyn and the quirky assemblages of Shinjuku youth.

This is the new Gucci: Logo canvas trench with a twist Gucci
This is the new Gucci: Logo canvas trench with a twist

Michele throws oodles of ideas and influences onto his catwalk, yet he manages to somehow pull it all off. On a sunny Monday in Milan, he invited the VIPs of menswear media and business to a dusty and disused customs station in northern Milan; where the ambience was immediately juxtaposed by the soundtrack – Gregorian chant.

Michele’s silhouette of micro jacket and flared pants Gucci
Michele’s silhouette of micro jacket and flared pants

In this enormous space, illuminated by Dan Flavin like banks of colorful fluorescent tubes, Michele took a leaf out of his recent cruise show in NYC. His invite matched his seat covers – green toile de jouy. Indeed there was a French sensibility about this show – best expressed by the adage embroidered over several looks. “L’Aveugle par Amour,” meaning Blinded by Love.

Though the key to this menswear show – where a good third of the passages were actually women’s wear – was the poetic androgyny.

Lace is part of Gucci men’s new repertoire Gucci
Lace is part of Gucci men’s new repertoire

Michele ranged across many cultures for his fabrics – Edwardian floral stripes; rich Lombard jacquards; busy Tuscan bees and funky retro Olympic sprinting champions. An unlikely mélange, true; but one that came together, with lots of mini trims in the house’s signature red and green.

It looks like Gucci also has a new winning suit silhouette, micro jackets with flared pants look fresh and credible.

Yes, there is commercial merch in the collection, the suits are terrific Gucci
Yes, there is commercial merch in the collection, the suits are terrific

It takes a particular sort of chap to go out on the town with a silk scarf knotted foppishly, neck ties in the shape of carnations; and suits composed of vintage tapestries or red jacquards over which exploded blue roses. Beige lace shirts their necklines lined with flowers or crocheted crewnecks over whose chest fluttered an enormous Pop Art butterfly. Or, our favorite, A Three Men in a Boat micro lapel check suit.

Another great suit in not often seen fabric Gucci
Another great suit in not often seen fabric

“My biggest obsession is beauty. That’s what inspires young people today. That search to always be different. To never be the same as all the millions of other people in your city,” beamed Michele – who, like his models, wore a dozen rings on his fingers.

Our favorite look, Michele loves to scissor off sleeves Gucci
Our favorite look, Michele loves to scissor off sleeves

Just occasionally fashion acts as a moral comment on our times. And this show felt like one of those moments. Let’s not forget, a little more than 100 years ago, the greatest mind in Europe, Oscar Wilde, was destroyed for being different. Jailed for two years for being gay, his books were burned, his plays were banned. After leaving prison, Wilde lived a wet winter in penury in Naples, within two more years the Irish playwright died in poverty in Paris. Last month, however, the Irish became the first nation to legalize gay marriage through a referendum. Times do change. And no creative discipline has done so much to make the idea of sexual differences be accepted as fashion. That’s why this Gucci show felt like a liberating moment. Oscar would have loved it.