Gucci is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and Alessandro Michele is pulling out all the stops. His Gucci Aria collection—the designer has ditched traditional seasons in favour of grand operatic chapters—includes nods to both the brand’s equestrian beginnings and its 1990s sex-fuelled comeback under Tom Ford. Taking elements from both eras, Michele melds the bourgeois with the boudoir to electrifying results. In a bold, unprecedented move, he also hacks the codes of Balenciaga, a Kering stablemate—bringing together the two brands’ signatures in what is surely the year’s buzziest collaboration. But there is also plenty of newness in the collection that is all Michele’s own; the maximalism and opulence that have defined his Gucci tenure is evident, refined with a new-found sense of precision and edge. Instead of his usual disparate clashing and layering and piling on, Michele strips things down to single, maximum-impact statement pieces. Of these, the most swoon worthy are the crystal-encrusted, anatomically correct hearts to be clutched or cradled like precious treasure.

The embellished bag is $11,810 and is available at Gucci, #01-38/39 Paragon (tel: 3138 2024).

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