#SuzyMFW: Gucci: What Lies Behind The Mask?

After a weirder-than-ever Gucci show, with violently bright lighting, models in metal spikes at the neck or in masks – say vivid green or animalistic cat faces – designer Alessandro Michele talked about working with Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi.

Karl apparently encouraged the young apprentice designer and called him a DJ, for his short blond hair. But things have grown darker since, and not just Michele’s shoulder-length black hair.

“We are all wild animals, contained by rules, and it’s difficult to stick to them with a wild side in me,” the designer said, referring perhaps to the discomforting spikes that would circle the neck above an ordinary, even geeky, women’s beige trouser suit or the male equivalent.

The clothes themselves were simple: sweaters and trousers for both sexes, some cute, short female dresses and sporty references, such as knee pads or sneakers swung in the hands like a bag.

However ‘ordinary’ the clothes may be, there was always weirdness lurking around the corner: was that little lamb on a tank top off for slaughter? Why were loose stitches petering out on jeans? What was that fetishistic headpiece planted above a python suit in green and yellow?

Michele did not seem perturbed by the uproar he had so recently created with a sweater’s high-rise, mouth-covering neck, which was read by some critics as a racial slur to black persons. The designer said that he wanted to learn from the mistake and ‘do things in a different way’.

But nothing these days at Gucci seems so different from what we have seen before: the vaguely 1950s tailoring; a man’s floral jacket like granny’s old apron; women’s dresses shrunken to look almost doll-like. Break down all those things and the plethora of other wearable pieces, and you have the success story of Gucci today.

Michele feels the need to explain his vision, to translate the original Latin word ‘persona’ as referring to an actor’s mask, as a ‘fake reality’ covering his/her individual identity.

The designer’s code is to “exercise our freedom through a power filter that selects what we want to share about us, and what we want to conceal”. For Gucci customers across the world, there are myriad choices of desirable fashion objects to buy.