"It is not very easy to try to do something different," said Gucci's new creative director Alessandro Michele backstage after his first womenswear show for the house. Considering that he has worked behind the scenes at the house for 12 years and has experienced firsthand the commercially driven direction of his predecessor, Michele's choice to do something so completely different was even more applaudable.
And so he did. From top to bottom. Changing the seating layout, doing just one show, crafting a square runway, picking almost exclusively unknown models and giving the show a mise en scene, tiled walls that mimicked the look and feel of a metro station. All of it combined to set the stage for a collection imbued with an androgynous romanticism.
Following in the footsteps of his menswear collection, which he created in just five days, the clothing continued to blur the gender lines. Was it a boy or a girl who inhabited a crinkled pea green leather suit worn with a ribbon tie, sky blue shirt, glasses and horsehair clogs? The model in the long sleeve pink ruffled top and easy cut red trousers was a mystery. As was the pompon knitted cap-wearing person in the gilded geometric patterned double-breasted coat and fur tufted footwear.
Sometimes making the call was easy. A see-through tulle top kind of gives the game away. While a number or pleated, flounce-edged floral print dresses and leather strip skirts were highly feminine, no matter who was wearing them.
"Sensuality is something that is inside of you," explained the designer when asked about the androgynous aspect of his work. "Because there are a lot of really beautiful girls that can look like a man and also men look like a woman. It's the story of the world. It is the life."
To listen to Michele talk about his work is to feel its poetic vulnerability. For example, he chose to have many of his models wear thick glasses because he likes the idea of celebrating the imperfection of still needing glasses in a world where everyone is trying to correct every aspect of their being.
Michele wanted to make this collection feel disconnected from the world. "It's a disconnect if you don't care what you are wearing you are disconnected from the world. And that is a good thing because you can talk the language that you want. This is modernity."
Now all that remains to be seen is, will Gucci's customers understand Michele's new modern fashion language?