Gucci S/S 2017

Alessandro Michele’s playground keeps on growing

Fashion can be a very calculating business, a cutthroat world, except in the imagination of Alessandro Michele, where a dazzling sense of romanticism rules. Especially at his latest menswear collection, where over a score of historical archetypes marched, each wearing an outfit that jumbled up styles, eras and even centuries; matinée idols, counts, 50’s rock ’n’ roll stars, Carnaby street hipsters and effete aesthetes.

The opening look of the Spring/Summer 2017 Gucci collection
The opening look of the Spring/Summer 2017 Gucci collection

Like his opening look; a footman’s doubled breasted coat in bright putty green, worn unlike any footman with black knee socks with marching boots each with different color laces. Or boyish sportsmen in cricket blazers, accompanied with roll neck sweaters. Or a gentlemanly fan of all things Asian who sported a mini Mao jacket and short pants in a Chinoiserie print worn with girly nylon stockings, football socks and Gucci loafers. The occasional gal in the show was even wackier: a 1930’s hostess in a Photoshop blown-up floral print, her head topped by a huge Restoration dandy hat, a look from a century before.

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1930’s hostess in a floral dress with a huge Restoration dandy hat

Michele telegraphed his intentions with his invite. On one side, a Renaissance map featuring galleons, seahorses and bizarre aquatic creatures; on the other a numbered twisting snake, with birds and bees crossing it. The same snake made into a ginormous carpet that became the runway for this show. The walls and seats padded in emerald green velvet – a suitably indulgent and romantic color for a suitably indulgent and quixotic collection. By the way, this was officially the final menswear show by Gucci, since the house recently announced that it will show men’s and women’s fashion together in the women’s catwalk season.

The eccentric explorer
The eccentric explorer

With everyone doing explorer clothes in Milan, it was instructive to see how eccentric Michele wants Gucci clients to be on their next foreign trip.

“I work so hard I never really take holidays anymore. I hardly even travel. Though I am always abroad in my mind,” beamed Michele, dressed in his preferred, scruffy post-show garb of combat pants, worn white T-Shirt and endless rings and baubles.

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A sportsman in a cricket blazers styled with a roll neck sweater

One could fault Michele for creating collections that look far too similar. An early exit of a boyish suit was in exactly the same red and white toile de jouy used in the card for his first women’s show almost 18 months ago. In every show, he loads down almost every garment with appliqués, embroidery and an enormous menagerie of insects, wild animals and domestic pets.

However, it’s precisely by this color blast of repetition that Michele has stamped his authority on Gucci, and given it an unmistakably different aesthetic. From any other brand anywhere. You can spot Gucci a mile away now, which was definitely not the case under his predecessor. And let’s not forget, his clothes have only been in Gucci stores for months, not years. So, a bit of repetition is important at the cash register because us editors see things months ahead, while the consumer does not.