alessandro michele's gucci is the new jewel in milan's crown

On the first day of Milan Fashion Week, Alessandro Michele proved that his new world at Gucci has no borders.

by Anders Christian Madsen
24 September 2015, 1:35pm

Photography Jason Lloyd Evans

If you want to know what success looks like, compare last season's backstage situation at Gucci to the one this season. The small group of journalists, who had gone back to speak to Alessandro Michele after his first women's show in February, suddenly found ourselves outnumbered by the showbiz machine six months on. Dakota Johnson, Alexa Chung, and Kering queen Selma Hayek-Pinault, all getting their fifteen, well, seconds with the new Prince of Milan. In the course of a season, Michele has created a fantasy world so strong at Gucci, you'd think he'd been dreaming about it his whole life—and it isn't of course unthinkable that during his 15 years at the house, thoughts of conquering the kingdom one day did cross his mind.

Michele's Gucci experience is so complete, he instantly achieves what most designers work a lifetime at accomplishing: entirely absorbing his audience into his world before the show has even started. Outside the greenhouse-y new Gucci venue, a biblical flood of Hollywood blockbuster dimensions was pouring down on Milan, turning the show space into a kind of sanctuary -- a world within a world. The floor was covered in a botanical carpet with oriental fantasy snakes wriggling their way through the weave, the chairs decked out in regal Gucci upholstery, and dressing screens added to the wealth of prints at the root of the runway. The invitation was embellished with embroidery and gold bees, the show notes printed by typewriter on pink paper.

If the men's show in June in that same venue felt like going to mass, this was the Vatican. Björk's Black Lake ceremoniously opening the show before Daemonia Nymphe's Hypnos took over with its whispered vocals, adding equal parts romance and mysticism to an already out-of-this-world dreamy affair. Backstage, Michele could have passed for a cardinal or at least some kind of shaman with his black hair and beard, longer and darker and more groomed than ever. "It's the idea that what you see isn't exactly real," he said. "You can be what you want, also if it doesn't exist." His aesthetic has been called many things, from 70s to nerdy to granny chic to androgynous, but Michele isn't one for definitions. "Be yourself," he reiterated at least twice. "Express your point of view."

What was his point of view, then? Well, it was exactly that: having the courage to present your own individual world to others, no matter how weird and wonderful it is. If Michele is the poster boy for anything, that's what he's done this year and what he stands for. The question on everyone's minds was how he was going to evolve that distinct aesthetic of his in his second season, or if it was even possible. He did develop it, but rather than exploring new territory, he seemed to be adding to existing land, proving quite effortlessly that the world he's dreamed up is more than enough for now. Sheen and shine and sparkle entered the picture, as did oriental vibes, and a much more pronounced tough, female sexiness epitomized in platform heels. Those big geeky glasses he likes so much had been blinged out in rhinestone.

There were some sixty exits, way too much for any show and yet here, you could easily have watched another hundred. If it sounds as if Michele can do no wrong right now, perhaps that's the best way to look at it. But if he can do no wrong, it's because the world he's created is so distinct to him and not entirely reliable on the legacy of Gucci that he gets that privilege, and is surrounded by so much optimism and positivity after his shows. Fashion loves nothing more than originality and individuality, and in Michele we've found our golden boy. When great dreamers happen to great houses.

Catch up with all i-D's fashion week coverage here


Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans

Fashion month
Milan Fashion Week
spring/summer 16
jason lloyd evans
ss 16