Gucci Takes Pro-Choice Stance

Just two miles away from Vatican City, a bold pro-choice message was unfurled Tuesday before an international fashion public.

Gucci Cruise 2020 show in Rome. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

No, it wasn’t a meeting of politicians or a demonstration. It was Gucci’s 2020 cruise collection, and designer Alessandro Michele chose to make his voice heard through his most powerful weapon: needle and thread.  

In a darkened space in the halls of Rome’s Capitoline Museum, stone Roman faces and their gods presided over a runway where a white gown embroidered with a sequined uterus stirred a media frenzy.   

Propelling the message further, blazers – adorned with the 1970’s slogan “My body, my choice” – conjured images of the demonstrations that took place around Roe vs Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling now under threat by conservative, right-wing politicians. The wave of extremism has led to the closure of safe abortion clinics, shuttering nearly all of them in states like Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia. 

Gucci Cruise 2020 show in Rome. Photos: Courtesy of PR.

“Female freedom and their right to choose to interrupt a pregnancy, is something I feel deeply about,” the designer said at a press conference following the fashion show, which took place in one of the city’s most powerful political arenas – adjacent to the Rome Mayor’s office and atop the Roman Forum, the birthplace of the Roman Senate.  

Amid controversial times, Michele was successful in making fashion’s voice heard. Just across the Tiber River, however, as the 47-year-old designer was putting the finishing touches on his fashion-forward collection, Pope Francis voiced his opinion on the pro-life, pro-choice debate, at a Vatican conference on Saturday. According to the New York Times, the Pope stated that abortion, even of a sick fetus, is like hiring a “hitman.” 

“The [my body, my choice] pieces echo the Creative Director’s continuing vision of freedom, equality, and self expression,” Gucci said, noting that the pro-choice stance was part of its Chime for Change campaign, which it founded in 2013 and that represents advocates for gender equality, supporting sexual and reproductive rights and maternal health.  

Elsewhere, the collection was an homage to Michele’s Roman upbringing. Models draped in veils and swathed in flowing gowns called to mind the Vestal Virgins, ancient highborns, who in Roman times took a vow of celibacy to honor the Godess Vesta. Austere priestly robes and cultish capes also stood out on a runway filled with unisex ensembles and glittering accessories.  Nostalgic pieces were updated with retro Mickey Mouse prints, glittery caps, guitar bags, chunky sneakers, and bling bling chains. 

The designer made a point to enhance the show experience with tours of the brand’s  #GucciPlaces -- Roman locations that Gucci sponsors and supports and that also contribute to Michele’s creative process.  

The city’s Biblioteca Angelica, one of Europe’s first public libraries, houses ancient works, a few of which were prohibited by the Vatican during the 16th century. At another stop, the Antica Libreria Cascianelli, a tribute to “exoticism” (a trend that swept European art and designs) was also reflective of the artistic details and illustrations that render Michele's collections so profound. 

The Willy Wonka of fashion, Michele has a knack for architecting his own fantasy world from scratch.  Season after season, he infuses the art of hand craftsmanship with his appreciation for antique art, culture, and literature. His ability to captivate the millennial generation through modern media is one of the main drivers of Gucci’s recent success.  

Gucci Cruise 2020 show in Rome. Photos: Courtesy of PR.

At the afterparty that culminated in a performance by Stevie Nicks and One Direction founding member Harry Styles, a multi-generational, gender-open crowd mingled under the ornate 19th century ceilings of the city’s Palazzo Brancaccio.  

“He always creates this sense of fantasy and life… and, as an actor, I appreciate seeing each person dressed as a different character,” said Academy-award nominated actress Saoirse Ronan, as she waited for Stevie Nicks to make her way on stage. 

Michele, the 25-year-old actress said, has been successful in penetrating her generation with his powerful message of inclusion and equality that transcends the fashion world. 

“He uses fashion as an influential medium.  It’s important for people my age to see someone who looks like them on the runway,” she said.