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Fashion
April 21, 2016

Why Gucci’s Alessandro Michele Is An Icon In The Making

Text by Saumya Sinha

Entering a new world of possibilities, Gucci’s creative kingpin, Alessandro Michele, has started a powerful dialogue in fashion

The driving force behind the multimillion-dollar industry that constitutes the ephemeral world of fashion is not merely reliant on numbers and trends, but sentiments as well. And it is this intersection between fashion and emotion that epitomises today’s brand-new Gucci. It all began, ironically, with the Italian fashion giant, founded in 1921, witnessing a downfall in market sales in the past couple of years. The need to regain lost exclusivity was non-negotiable; as expected, changes followed quickly, the first of which was the appointment of Marco Bizzarri as CEO and Alessandro Michele as creative director in January 2015. This new young partnership led to an emergence of bold ideas that pushed the brand to challenge set trends. To take Gucci back to the top, Michele had to formulate a fresh identity with new power dynamics; and having been an integral part of the fashion house for over 12 years, he had the foresight to move away from the brand’s fascination with restrained elegance. His eclectic womenswear debut injected a much-needed dose of sexuality, wowing the world with his willingness to test boundaries. It’s obvious then that the burgeoning fan following of the brand today is largely due to the creative head and his cutting-edge approach.

Sure-shot winner
Formerly head of accessories, Michele knows the brand intimately. To this knowledge he adds a vision that has a rare and venturous quality. His gender-blurring statements on the runway, his ideas about fey masculinity and his focus on storytelling has won him the best international fashion designer of the year award at the British Fashion Awards 2015 after helming the mammoth organisation for less than a year. Michele has successfully presented, within five days, a menswear line redesigned from scratch for Fall/Winter 2015. Apart from churning out multiple collections catering to both men and women, he is also credited with changing the way the brand emotes. It was after the frenzy caused by his first womenswear line that the fashion house’s store displays were rejigged to be in tune with this collection.

Digital makeover
Gucci is currently reigning over the world of ‘watch it, buy it, wear it, tweet it’, as far as fashion is concerned. The brand has initiated #Guccigram, an Instagram project, where the new signature Gucci blooms and the Gucci Caleido prints were reinterpreted by several artists. A collaboration with graffiti artist Trevor Andrew gave a quirky spin to the GG monogram seen on skirts, bags and fur coats. From a redesigned website that today counts more than 100 million visitors worldwide annually, to continuous digital makeovers and social media initiatives, there’s a spirit of change that’s powering the core of the brand both offline and online.

Back to the past
Michele’s collections are greatly inspired by the writings of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who said, ‘Those who are truly contemporary are those who neither perfectly coincide with their time nor adapt to its demands….’Lived-in, pre-creased clothes such as pleated chintzy chiffons and heavy brocade and fur coats, and skin-baring point d’esprit separates evoked nostalgia from point go. The revival of pussy bow blouses, the iconic GG symbol and the obvious geek-chic vibe, and the quirky spin on the horsebit loafer and the brand’s birds-of-paradise motif all marked the beginning of a revolution. Inspired by Michele’s personal archives, Gucci’s recent Herbarium print, that made an appearance throughout the Cruise ’16 show, gave a lease of life to vintage dressing. His Spring/Summer ’16 show took ahead the grandma-cool feel that he established with his first ready-to-wear collection.

His most recent lines have been a glamorous mash-up of historical references, silhouettes and aesthetics that combined luxury and street style, sportswear and formal wear, history and popular culture. A sheer gown was juxtaposed with an ACDC logo and a 17th-century court jacket was matched with Gucci’s signature chevron stripes. Jackets reminiscent of 1920s menswear were repurposed in luscious fabrics and worn with librarian-style pleated skirts while lurex ruffles on sleeves and hems whipped up another trend. A little bit from the biggest sartorial hits in recent decades was on offer; each piece symbolised a particular facet of the woman. This was the fashion equivalent of a superhero movie, with all the favourites on one stage. Accessories played a prominent role and the creative director went all out in reviving the brand’s old patterns.

The Gucci gamine
With the buzz surrounding the recent revamp at the fashion house, Michele has grabbed a significant number of headlines himself. For those who are still seeking a style icon, the answer is right here. Gucci’s new face — the sophisticated nerd wrapped in old-world charm — has struck a chord with the world of luxury and the postmodernist woman alike.

At Gucci, times are changing and, in the process, the brand is creating a league of its own. Diving into fresh spaces and recontextualising the present is the new-old brand recharged with aristocratic glamour and romanticism. Gucci, without a doubt, has given us its most ambitious creations yet, and entered a universe of possibilities which is not only relevant but also utterly refreshing.

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