Alessandro Michele never fails to put on a show. Since taking over as creative director at Gucci in 2015, the Italian native has reconfigured the code of the famed label, changing it from a stalwart of sexiness with a historical DNA in equestrian to one that celebrates quirk and follows a more-is-more mind-set. This is reflected both in the design of his collection, which piles on the embroideries and mixed-period silhouettes, and his ready-to-wear presentations at Milan Fashion Week.
At his core, Michele is a visual dramatist, constructing worlds that are whimsical yet macabre, elegant yet edgy. And for the fall 2020 season, he really upped the ante on combining dualities. He staged his show at the brand’s headquarters, formally known as Gucci Hub, inviting guests on a virtual behind-the-scenes tour.
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Behind a circular glass case, clothing racks and makeup counters were staged, setting a familiar scene known only to fashion show producers and industry insiders. But instead of the Sturm und Drang typical of these venues, Michele presented order, lining up models along a moving platform, standing stoically. Before then, they were dressed by a staff who were outfitted in uniformed gray button-downs and matching trousers.
They eventually segued in the background, contrasting the bright, richly textured collection. There were gauzy baby doll dresses, Edwardian gowns with tiered tulle skirts and frills in sorbet hues that were punctuated with leather harnesses, suits that harked to the heyday of dandyism, schoolgirl-esque separates composed of box-pleated A-line skirts and blouses with pronounced collars, and an assortment of Pilgrim-inspired hats and large cross necklaces. Every look was particular, as if each was its own character in a play. Together, they told a story that was saccharine on the surface but hiding a sinister side through line.
As with everything Michele presents, Gucci’s fall 2020 show was multidimensional. It was layered both literally and figuratively, forming an expression that can be pieced apart and interpreted in myriad ways—and without the utterance of a single word. Indeed, sans dialogue, Michele spoke volumes.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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