Since his Gucci debut six years ago, Alessandro Michele has always cast a romantic eye towards the past. Again, the past was present in the Gucci Aria collection shown last night (April 15, 2021)—Michele’s offering for the fall/winter 2021 season—but it was also perhaps his first to be so forward-looking; it was futuristic almost. When was the last time you heard a Gucci show soundtracked by hip-hop? The medium of presentation was a super sleek, high energy, highly stylised music video more than anything else—a striking departure from last season’s languid, episodic film festival.
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With heavy references to the Savoy Club, these were clothes for all tomorrow’s parties. With all the recent industry talk of revenge dressing—the act of dressing up to the nines and beyond to make up for the past lost year—this is the most seductive proposition thus far. Each look was calculated for maximum wow factor, with silhouette, saturation and shine turned way up. Statement gowns and dresses were worn with chubbies and chock-full of jewels. The tailoring was lean, mean and rock-star-worthy—some trimmed with feathers, others fully sequined. The accessory du jour? An anatomically correct heart encrusted with crystals, cradled in the hands.
Riffing on Tom Ford’s legacy, Michele toyed with the idea of sex in spring/summer 2020, but here it was full-on and in-your-face—there were chains and whips and harnesses (the cleverest of which incorporated the Gucci Horsebit), lingerie as outerwear, nipples bared, piercings galore and sheer layers revealing nothing but skin underneath. With its 100th anniversary coming up this year, Michele even looked to the brand’s equestrian heritage—and turned it into an electrifying styling trope.
The most Internet-breaking news is, of course, the collaboration with fellow Kering stablemate, Balenciaga—a development that’s been rumoured about and hyped over the past few days on social media. Among the results: the laser-precision suiting and silhouettes of Balenciaga covered in the logos of both brands or printed all over with Gucci Flora; Gucci Jackie bags stamped with Balenciaga logos, and Balenciaga Hourglass bags emblazoned with the Gucci monogram. The most iconic look of Demna Gvasalia’s debut Balenciaga collection—the sculpted red parka worn over a glittering turtleneck—reappeared, this time with a double-branded parka taking the place of the original. With reports of slowing growth in recent quarters, this collection is exactly the jolt of energy that will propel Gucci to the top of everyone’s minds once again.