la-la land: hollywood takes milan fashion week
Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Philipp Plein kicked off the first day of spring/summer 17 shows in Milan—by way of Hollywood.
"Everybody comes to Hollywood. They want to make it in the neighbourhood," a wise woman once sang. The capital of showbiz is to people in the arts and entertainment what the British monarchy is to prime ministers: no matter your disposition everyone gets seduced by it in the end. Fast on his way to becoming a household name, Alessandro Michele has been basking in the spotlight flicked on by his overnight success at Gucci, hanging out with Jared Leto, Dakota Johnson, and the rest of LA, who flock to him to be seen with him like they do a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. In his spring/summer 17 collection - the last labelled "women's fashion show" before Gucci merges its presentations in February - Michele found an outlet for those irresistible flashing lights, or "Magic Lanterns" as the collection was called in typical whimsical @lallo25 lingo. "It was the idea of Hollywood. It's the most glamorous place I've been in my life," he gushed backstage, faced by a crammed-together crowd of people, now not simply comprised of journalists hoping to get a quote or two, but also photographers and fans trying to get their fifteen seconds with the star.
"I've spent some time in LA, and I met Elton," Michele continued. "That is Elton John," he clarified, "which was unbelievable. He's like fireworks. He's incredible. He's a guard of music, of bling-bling, of everything." The sparkly camp and showmanship personified by the artist were a natural match for Michele's multi-referential opulence. Elton wasn't directly detectable as muse in the collection, but you could easily find the associations—in this collection or any other Gucci collection under the reign of Michele. Like his previous shows, this one -veiled in smoke, mirrors and red light perhaps as a metaphor for Hollywood - exercised the wealth of inspirations that flow through the mind of this designer and materialise in a form language that melts together his collections. Bar his British-inspired cruise show in May, where Michele heavily applied an idea of anglophilia to his otherwise so distinct aesthetic with great results, his collections aren't easily definable—much like his show notes. "Can you help me decipher line twelve through eighteen," an otherwise rather intellectual fashion critic quipped before the show, scrupulously studying the puzzling press release of sentences such as "the narrative principle is non-linear".
The show notes didn't mention Hollywood like Michele did backstage, and his verbal illumination did help to clarify things for those of us in need of an Easy Reader. As he pointed out, however, the specifics of a Gucci collection's theme aren't that important. Michele's work always comes back to the same thing: "It's beautiful, it's pop, but it's also very sophisticated in a way. It's just a different language, but it's our language. My idea of fashion was always that it wasn't just one story, but an al fresco of an illusion," he said. "I used some pieces that came from a prostitute in Venice in the 1500s and mixed them with LA, with pop culture, with Asia. It's like musician: you always need more notes, otherwise the music stops—and I don't want to stop the music." It's a sentiment Peter Dundas would definitely be able to relate to, even if he wouldn't put it quite like that. The Roberto Cavalli designer has always embraced Hollywood, unashamedly and wholeheartedly, draping the superstars of the world in his glamorous red carpet creations. His spring/summer 17 show marked Cavalli's first foray into co-ed presentations, and this time Dundas' menswear had influenced his womenswear.
"I buy vintage for my partner and myself and it becomes part of the collection," he said. It was a cultural hotchpotch of references from near and far, such as Navajo elements nodding to Dundas' American roots, snowflake elements nodding to his Norwegian roots, "Swedish clogs, Japanese kimonos" and so on. Dundas refers to his collections as patchworks of the places he visits on his never-ending travels, morphed together into the louche rock 'n' roll opulence that already defines his Roberto Cavalli just a year into his tenure. The aesthetic has Hollywood appeal, and like Michele, Dundas knows that means universal appeal. This is something Philipp Plein understands better than anyone. His mega show Wednesday evening - the last in Milan before he relocates to New York - was designed like an American suburb (fun fair included), "ghettofied" the way Plein likes it in a collection that was pretty much made for Fergie. She performed before the show started, by the way, and as Plein rang out the first day of shows in Milan, Hollywood had never felt closer to home.
Text Anders Christian Madsen