in milan, home is where the heart is
At Monday’s men’s shows in Milan, Gucci and Fendi made the case for staying in.
"I know when to go out. And when to stay in," David Bowie sang on Modern Love. Alessandro Michele could have included those lyrics on the tribute jacket he emblazoned with Bowie's name in his autumn/winter 16 collection for Gucci, because they were practically the philosophy for the informal, home-centric sentiment he sent down his runway on Monday in Milan. Three seasons into Michele's adored and admired work it's clear: as a designer, he falls into the category occupied by poets such as Rick Owens or Ann Demeulemeester, whose aesthetics are totally different to his but similar in the way that they're so defined their work has to develop slowly within those frames—otherwise they wouldn't be true to themselves as designers. "It's like a novel. You start, but you don't know where you'll go with it," he said backstage.
There is so much emotion and passion and detail in his opulent, androgynous take on 70s Gucci that the ceremony of it doesn't allow for sudden changes of direction, and nor should it. "I don't have a method," he confessed. "Fashion is about you." Michele's aesthetic is so grand and magical and personal to him it's often overwhelming, and it forces you to look closely to find his new statement. This season he made the case for staying in, expressed in loose, louche garments of the loungewear sort.
"I love to stay in this in-between. I don't want a space. I love colour, I love animals, I love the idea that there is an energy in every single thing you do, and every single piece you put in a garment," he said, surrounded by the ever-growing crowds of people wanting a piece of his magic backstage. One of those animals he likes was Snoopy, an unexpected guest star on garments amongst all the majestic embellishment that defines Michele's work, but the perfect poster boy for the character he was portraying in this Gucci collection: cosy, comfy and relaxed—in a totally major way, of course. The set was carpeted in crimson red and bathed in crimson light, the warmth of which had a slightly dozing effect that felt comfortable above all.
Backstage Michele talked about conveying feelings through personal memories that might be foreign to his audience but to which they'd find their own way of relating. It was about giving life to material objects. "If you take two fragments without life and you put them together, you give them new life," he mused. In the homey context of his collection that statement was about familiarity: wearing something familiar feels comfortable. But those same garments - the staying-in kind - also reflect a certain vulnerability, which is key to Michele's success a Gucci.
He is a man, who feels—not in a grand way, but in a modest manner that's rare to find in fashion. Backstage he thanked people for their compliments, expressing how much it meant to him because he'd worked so hard on the collection. That itself was vulnerable: Michele is not pretending to magically be pulling this Gucci success out of a hat. He's the real deal, and he's awesome. So is Silvia Venturini Fendi, who supported the case for staying in on Monday with her best men's collection in years. "We all live so comfortably at home that there's less and less need to go out," she said after the show, which applied Fendi's furry trademark to slouchy pyjama garments that looked right at home on the fluffy runway with the spiral staircase at the root of it, designed to look like a house interior.
"Our life at home has changed so much. Before you'd wear at-home clothes watching television or cooking—today you work. So that's probably why loungewear and home-wear are so relevant at the moment." Relevant was exactly what her collection felt like, not least because the approach was so unexpected following Mrs Fendi's focus on urban and outdoors lifestyles over recent seasons. "You stay at home with your hoodie and then you go out with it. At least my children do. So I thought it would be nice to have things that could go both ways—inside and outside," she explained, noting how some of the coats were reversible, giving you choice of an informal or formal look. "I thought it would be nice to bring fantasy and magic to everyday life," she said, and at the end of the day that's what modern life - and modern love - is all about.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans