gucci takes milan’s breath away

Following Frida Giannini’s early departure just days ago, next-in-charge designer Alessandro Michele put a collection together in just five days and earned the applause of a lifetime. The new era of Gucci is here.

by Anders Christian Madsen
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20 January 2015, 10:00am

What ended in a standing ovation at the Gucci show in Milan on Monday afternoon, started out relatively unforeseen. It wasn't as if the congregated press had been hyping up the house's first menswear show after the departure of Frida Giannini. No huge designer name had been announced as her replacement, gossip tongues weren't wagging, and as guests arrived and read the ambiguous show notes everything pointed to one of those quick transition collections that don't mean that much. "Urban romanticism", pledged its headline. How wrong we were. The soundtrack to A Single Man - yup, the Tom Ford film - quietly (and not so quietly) saw the first exit down the runway: a beautiful, long-haired, willowy boy in a deep coral silken pussy-bow blouse, a loose black trouser, and a mink sandal set the androgynous, very put-together intellectual 70s mood for a collection, which unravelled into a delicately sexy, almost dainty menswear makeover for Gucci, gracefully opulent and softly rock 'n' roll.

It was intended to have been Frida Giannini's last collection for the house since she announced her seemingly amicable split in late 2014, but just days ago Gucci declared her premature departure, leaving the fate of the autumn/winter 15 men's show uncertain. During seating at the show, rumour had it that Giannini had been excused due to comments she'd made in the press, although nobody seemed to have read this elusive interview. Someone with moles on the inside claimed Gucci had disposed of the collection Giannini had been working on and ordered a new one to be sewn in jut five days - footwear included - and suddenly, minutes before the show started, you got the feeling this would be something of an experience—in the most kill-or-cure of ways, mind you. It should be stressed that none of these rumours were confirmed by Gucci, but if the house had anticipated the breathtaking sigh that went through the crowd as the show unfolded, they definitely wouldn't have cared either.

For a rushed collection - and no matter what had gone down behind the scenes, it was rushed - it had incredible vision. The cast of skinny rock boys and a couple of girls in menswear couldn't help but make you think of Saint Laurent, but the elegant and romantic point of departure of the collection tapped into something softer and more ethereal. It was an epic departure from Giannini's naval officer collection from last season, and the mod collections that preceded it, executed by a designer, who's been at Gucci for as long as Giannini herself. 2002 was the year Alessandro Michele, the man behind the pussy-bows, joined the house alongside Giannini, and worked under Tom Ford during the tail end of his ten-year residency at Gucci, which reinvented the old dynastical house and turned it into a global super brand. Coming out after his team, Michele was the last person to take a bow at his debut show, thirteen years after joining Gucci, and he was visibly moved by the reaction, which had already turned into that standing ovation.

It was as emotional for the guests in attendance, not just because of the surprise element and because the show brought some fashion excitement to a Milan men's week that gets a tad commercial at times, but also because it awoke a certain reflective adoration in people. Obviously Gucci never lost its significance - and Giannini had some great moments - but along the years, those of us who worshipped at the altar of Gucci during the Tom Ford era (and have a double-G denim and accessory wardrobe at our parents' house to prove it) sometimes forgot that we were attending shows at the brand that ruled our fashion lives in the late 90s and early 00s, and essentially paved the way for the golden age of menswear - Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane, Lanvin by Lucas Ossendrijver - that materialised after the millennium. Without Tom Ford's bold but always masculine and wearable - and highly sexy - vision for Gucci, the bridge between avant-garde menswear of the 80s and 90s and conservative tailoring wouldn't have created the all-important link, which has also been responsible for the menswear we now see at Rick Owens and Givenchy where boundary-pushing fashion becomes approachable and covetable to all kinds of men, without them really noticing.

Rumours have flying around the fashion landscape that Tom Ford could be heading back to Gucci, something that was fuelled by Ford's film score being used to soundtrack the show. After Alessandro Michele's performance on Monday afternoon, though, it seems like the former apprentice has got it covered. Either way, it's all about Gucci now.

Rumours have flying around the fashion landscape that Tom Ford could be heading back to Gucci, something that was fuelled by Ford's film score being used to soundtrack the show. After Alessandro Michele's performance on Monday afternoon, though, it seems like the former apprentice has got it covered. Either way, it's all about Gucci now.

gucci.com

Credits


Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams

Tagged:
Gucci
Milan
Catwalk
Frida Giannini
alessandro michele
autumn/winter 15
aw 15
anders christian madsen
milan menswear