37 things you didn’t know about gucci's creative director alessandro michele
Ahead of the brand’s Paris spectacular tonight, here’s your guide to the Italian designer.
Appointed Gucci's Creative Director in early 2015 -- having worked behind the scenes there since 2002 under Tom Ford and Frida Giannini -- Alessandro Michele is the long-haired, bearded maverick who has transformed not only the fortunes of the iconic brand (profits rocketed by 51% last year), but also created a madcap, vintage-inspired-yet-very-new look, attitude and fanbase, far from its former tastefully-sleek-and-sexy vibe.
The Gucci world under the direction of Michele has become one populated by vivid colour clashes and underpinned by a patchwork of century-spanning references, straddling dinosaurs and aliens, cartoons and severed heads, sparkles, snakes, churches, floral gardens and chip shops; fusing the antique and sombre with pop culture and trashy.
Into this Gucci orbit, Michele has along the way invited collaborators, catwalkers and advertising campaign faces, including pop star Harry Styles, dancer Michael Clark, actress and model Hari Nef, designer Dapper Dan, artist GucciGhost and photographer Martin Parr, among others, to further expand his fashion vision.
With this in mind, i-D delves deep to find out more-more-more about the Gucci maestro himself.
1. Alessandro Michele was born in Rome in 1972. i-D reckons he looks impressively young considering he's edging close to 50.
2. Alessandro Michele's dad Vincenzo worked as a technician for the airline, Alitalia, and was a gentle nature-loving hippy type who in his spare time liked to visit art galleries and ye olde churches with his son.
3. Alessandro Michele's mum used to work as an assistant to a film executive -- during his childhood she was an ultra-glam urbanite who knew lots of actors and always rocked fierce hair dos and fashionable frocks.
4. Alessandro Michele started experimenting with his own appearance and image at the age of eight, and had even bleached his hair by the tender age of ten!
5. Alessandro Michele attended Rome's Costume e Moda after finishing school, initially thinking he wanted to be a costume designer, before working for Les Copains on knitwear, then on leather goods at Fendi during the late-90s, prior to being hired as a bag designer by Gucci, during the early noughties.
6. Alessandro Michele's nickname is Lallo -- and he owns a pale blue bomber jacket, with a paisley lining embroidered with the aforementioned moniker.
7. Alessandro Michele is an avid collector of 'things'. One of his prized collections comprises 35 different copies of the marvellously-surreal children's book, Alice in Wonderland, originally penned by Lewis Carroll back in 1865.
8. Alessandro Michele also owns a collection of his late dad's wooden walking sticks -- which had been hand carved by his dad with symbols of nature and various poetic phrases.
9. Alessandro Michele also owns a wardrobe-busting collection of over 360 pairs of shoes -- gulp! Enough to make Imelda Marcos jealous. (Well, not quite).
10. Alessandro Michele also owns a collection of miniature Meissen porcelain pugs.
11. Alessandro Michele broke new ground by presenting Gucci's Resort 17 collection within London's Westminster Abbey -- the first time a fashion show has ever taken place in this hallowed building.
12. Alessandro Michele is inspired by Rome's Basilica di San Clemente, a 12th Century church decorated with Byzantine-style mosaics and frescoes, which was built on top of the remains of a church from the 4th century.
13. Alessandro Michele loves to make his own hands as decorative as possible by wearing multiple rings on every finger, in a mix of emerald, saphire, ruby and pearl styles.
14. Alessandro Michele was taught how to crochet when he was a kid by an aunt who thought it would be a good way to channel his restless energy. To this day he still loves to sew, picking up new techniques from YouTube tutorials, and when in London he loves to pop to Liberty to purchase needlepoint kits.
15. Alessandro Michele is a self-confessed fan of London and loves the city's wild mix of exhibitions, theatres, east London club kids and the glamorous old ladies tottering about the West End.
16. Alessandro Michele first went to London in his teens, by which time he was wearing super skintight jeans, pointy shoes and sporting a blond mohawk -- he headed straight to Camden Market as everyone does the first time they go to London.
15. Alessandro Michele is good mates with the fabulously stylish gloom-rocker Nick Cave and his equally fabulous ex-model-turned fashion designer wife, Susie (who, by the way, used to model in fashion spreads for i-D, many moons ago).
16. Alessandro Michele doesn't just splash on any old cheap fragrance picked up at duty free lounges, he favours a much more rarified cologne, originally created in 1828 by the Florentine apothecary, Santa Maria Novella.
17. Alessandro Michele has been with his long term boyfriend -- a brainy chap named Giovanni Attili, who is a professor at the Sapienza University of Rome -- for ten loved-up years.
18. Alessandro Michele and his fella live in an apartment in an 18th Century building in Rome, which was formerly an office. They also own a country house in a cute village named Civita di Bagnoregio, which is two hours outside of the city.
19. Alessandro Michele once very romantically made a pendant for Giovanni, fashioned from a plaited lock of his own hair and adorned with pearls -- sweet!
20. Alessandro Michele reckons the US cartoon dog Snoopy is a philosopher... er, okay?!
21. Alessandro Michele was an avid childhood fan of the pop star Elton John. He finally got to meet his idol at a swanky showbiz bash in LA in 2016. They ended up sat together on a couch having a right ol' natter and not long after Alessandro agreed to design Elton's stage cozzies for his next world tour.
22. Alessandro Michele is a huge fan of the ultra-kitsch Hollywood designer and costume-maker, Bob Mackie, who over the decades has created jaw-dropping looks for the legendary likes of Cher, RuPaul, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, and loads more not-very-shy-at-all famous performers.
23. Alessandro Michele once told a journalist that he prefers to use his imagination rather than a car or a train -- which must prove problematic when trying to get to work on time in the morning.
24. Alessandro Michele is a free thinker and a dreamer who reckons fashion should be like a universal language -- an expression of a way of life and a point of view.
25. Alessandro Michele won the International Award at the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in 2016, presented to him by a Gucci-clad Anna Wintour, who gushed, "He has helped us dream more freely."
26. Alessandro Michele's office in the Gucci headquarters is the absolute opposite of minimal -- filled with tons of books, Persian rugs, cheese plants, antique velvet sofas, stuffed birds and old masters. He likes to fill the space with the fragrant waft of incense and soft background music in the form of 9th and 10th Century Gregorian chants!
27. Alessandro Michele loves animals and has two cute Boston terriers of his own, named Bosco and Orso.
28. Alessandro Michele is a v. hands-on kinda guy who likes to style the Gucci shows himself. Which is considered quite unusual nowadays, as most big designers collaborate with a superstar stylist.
29. Alessandro Michele is a big fan of his former Gucci boss, Tom Ford. He told Vogue that working for Tom was “a beautiful experience,” and he further enthused that “Tom has a quality like a movie superstar."
30. Alessandro Michele's ideal workday lunch at his studio is a far cry from our Tesco meal deal. He favours a healthy serving of tofu accompanied by lashings of steamed vegetables.
31. Alessandro Michele once compared the Gucci brand and its amazing heritage to a beautiful old lady that one cannot resist!
32. Alessandro Michele likes to accompany the presentations of the new Gucci collections with ultra-detailed and very wordy show notes -- one of which described, 'an assemblage of fragments emerging from a temporal elsewhere: resurfacing epiphanies, entangled and unexpected...' Exactly!
33. Alessandro Michele loves the UK's most famous Elizabeth of all: “The Queen is one of the most quirky people in the world,” he revealed to The New Yorker. “She is very inspiring. It is clear that she loves color.”
34. Alessandro Michele's favourite colour of all is pink and he is known to scour antiques shops when he's in London to seek out different pink shades for inspiration.
35. Alessandro Michele is a fan of the 80s Manchester-born band, The Smiths, just like us.
36. Alessandro Michele can count oodles of celebs among the contemporary Gucci fan base -- ASAP Rocky, James Franco, Rihanna, Kate Moss and Kylie Jenner are just a few famous fans of his designs.
37. Alessandro Michele really-really loves his job, as he confirmed to Vogue: “It’s incredibly beautiful to work on Gucci because I can translate all my passion. I can create the character I want. And I’m having a lot of fun.”