#SuzyMFW Gucci: From Ancient Rome to Elton John
“Not believable!” exclaimed Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, wearing a sparkling zippered sports jacket with rhinestone cowboy glitter. Beside him backstage was a model in eye-popping silver and gilt, carrying a canvas backpack announcing “Elton John”, above an image of an eye with long lashes spilling silvered tears.
What was most unbelievable was that the huge audience for the Spring/Summer 2018 Gucci show had just sat through the immersive experience – with Greco-Roman statues littering the space like an archaeological site and a blue runway inspired by Rome’s River Tiber – but had barely been able to see a thing.
Strobe lights glowed fiery red as the models came out through the classic arches. The clothes would suddenly flash out in the Stygian gloom: shorts; a normal-ish suit, but with a glitter gulch of gold paillettes; men in tailored jackets, but worn with the briefest of shorts. And many of Michele’s familiar juxtapositions, such as animal-print jackets over floral dresses.
Out of the dark came sudden light, such as a pair of Gucci loafers with crystals winking towards the toes.
The first signs and symbols of the spectacle to come were hinted at with the invitation: a metal box, as if from an old world fair, with “Guccify” and “Hypnotism” printed on the wrapping paper and “Guccy” (yes, written like that) on the tin. “Maison de l’amour” was another notice. Inside were black candles and matches.
Is Michele a 21st-century fairground trickster, who leaves his customers in a swoon, but with nothing to show for it?
Not at all! The designer offered outfit after outfit, a kaleidoscope of colours, patterns and fabrics, reaching a total of 108 looks – double what other brands offer. And if some of the pieces seem repetitive of an earlier season, that was the idea.
Michele’s manifesto announced, “The act of relation as an act of resistance”. “Creation is a poetic art,” he claimed. “It’s an eruptive process emerging from a magnetic core inhabited by urgencies, ghosts and desires.”
“Resist!” the plea continued. “Resist acceleration and its obsessive painting that risks shattering life. Resist the mantra of speed and the illusion of something new at any cost.”
This might seem rich coming from the creative source of a company that pays his salary by selling clothes, but the concept of slowing down fashion is smart.
In the current Ferris wheel of revolving designers at the big brands, consistency has become a rarity. Michele brought something new to Gucci nearly three years ago. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as the American mantra has it.
So was there a hint of something new in the pile-it-on philosophy at Gucci this season? It was hard to tell in the dark. But there was Elton John. He was not there in person, although his partner David Furnish was watching the show in which references to Elton hits flashed by on clothes and accessories. They included a musical notation print on a menswear outfit that referenced an Elton performance in 1975.
The two music and fashion stars should have something in common, with Elton’s success in the 1970s and Michele’s obsession with that era.
Is it time for Gucci to leap from ancient to modern: Greco- Roman via the 70s to the 21st century? No. Because modernity in fashion today is all in the mad mix.