For his second ready-to-wear collection at Gucci, Alessandro Michele (who took over from Frida Giannini at the beginning of this year), presented a wealth of ideas that firmly and strongly built on what he started to show us his intentions were last season.
But where those had a slight softly-softly approach, this time the ideas came with gusto, staunchly setting out to follow up and consolidate what he started and take it somewhere even better. You know this is going to be one very desirable collection and one that will have significant impact on the season ahead.
It was his blend of geek-chic still but with solid Gucci accessory references and everything was amped up – from colour to decoration, frills and glitter, shine, sequins and embroidery which dazzled down sheer column flounced dresses or climbed and wound round the backs of those sheer pussy-bow blouses he so managed to put on the map for autumn/winter 2015 (he’s the reason you have one, or are soon to, in your wardrobe).
The house’s signature red and green was used to strong effect, as were its GGs that featured on backless shoes – in fact the accessories offering, what with its brooches and pearl-punched shoes, shimmering shades and more – was a magpie’s dream, expensive vintage. Everyone will want a piece of it – once it becomes too hot to wear their fuzzy Gucci slippers from last season, of course (there were a lot of these gracing the front row).
The show notes described a “treasure chest of aesthetic references”, which was entirely apt. It was a continuation of that studious Seventies sensibility, this time overlaid with a disco effect and the beret proves still to be the Gucci girl’s best friend. The Alessandro effect looks set to stay.
Alessandro Michele enjoyed his moment officially in the spotlight for this collection. The former head of accessories at Gucci was crowned creative director back in January after Frida Giannini, the label’s creative director for the past decade, left prematurely. This was supposed to have been her last collection for the house – but instead, in something of shock surprise, Michele had been installed in time to lay foundations for change at the menswear show. In fact he completely redid it at the last minute. And with it came a turnaround from the high octane sensibility we’re so used to seeing.
Everything about this collection was soft, youthful and had a sense of freedom: floral prints on chiffon tiered and pleated dresses; loose tousled hair with flowers gently fastened in; pussy-bow blouses; cuffs fluting from billowy blouses; lace (red, just like in the menswear collection); neck scarves; an overall folk-craft tone.
There was a distinct aristo-Englishness to it, something a little eccentric and ambiguous – this wasn’t made with a Milanese woman in mind, the kooky-cool naivety imbued with quintessential British charm. There were jaunty berets and tank-top knits, androgynous crumpled tailoring and studious specs. And it felt young too, a new audience on Michele’s agenda – one who is seduced by clothes that aren’t hard work.
It was about going back to heritage pieces, specifically those that belonged to Gucci as opposed to just having a rifle in the back of one’s wardrobe, though that idea played a part too. It was in the details – the loafers, the bags, the floral prints – and going back to that original idea of Gucci luxury. And there was a nod to that girl-boy gender blur in dressing too – something that feels important in fashion right now – especially in the way it was styled.
The show notes indulged with a paragraph about “stored-up possibilities”, “the freedom to construct new meanings” – and it was very clear from the output here that Gucci’s new chapter has begun.
IT’S the headline that most fashion followers thought they would never read, and almost warrants another question mark or an exclamation mark at the very least, but the unthinkable has happened: Tom Ford is again being linked with Gucci following Frida Giannini’s hasty departure earlier this week.
The company’s creative helmer for a decade, from 1994 to 2004, Ford defined an era for Gucci, creating the brand that we know today. Taking a leading role within Kering, then called the Gucci Group, Ford also took creative charge at Yves Saint Laurent during his time with the conglomerate – and could do little wrong creatively or commercially during that time.
Tom Ford takes a bow at his final Gucci show in 2004
The excitement that the Italian house generated among fashion fans under Ford was never replicated under his successor Giannini, who favoured dressing real women over Hollywood starlets – and Ford’s controversial advertising campaigns kept the brand in the headlines where the subsequent, more low-key media approach has favoured philanthropy over shock value. When the partnership between Ford and Kering owner Francois-Henri Pinault unravelled – as it did very publicly – Ford retreated from public life for several years, before establishing his eponymous label in 2006.
So how much of this speculation is wishful thinking on the part of fashion watchers – and what might stand in the way of such a return? Well the short answer is, much of it and a lot of things. Firstly, Ford’s hugely successful eponymous brand, said to be worth nearly a billion pounds, would likely not be compatible with the rigours of running Gucci. Secondly, Ford has been very vocal about the emotional and physical toll that the job took on him, as well as how pleased he was to have extricated himself from the label and taken control of a company the direction of which he governed autonomously. Thirdly, since leaving Gucci, Ford has admittedly switched the focus of his own life from business to family – marrying long-term partner Richard Buckley and welcoming a son, Alexander, who is still just two and presumably very much in need of his dad. Add to that the fact that a Ford insider, rather amused at the suggestion, asserted this morning that there was “no truth” to the rumours.
Thanks to Galliano, 2015 is already the year of the fashion comeback, but a Ford for Gucci return really would make all our sartorial dreams come true.
Tom Ford following his spring/summer 2015 show in September 2014
When a house like Gucci taps into the Seventies it does it with a sense of conviction that’s unparalleled. The decade was a Gucci heyday and Frida Giannini, a Seventies girl at heart, must have delighted in the making of this spring collection.
It was convincing from the get-go: from the opening look – a narrow-shouldered button-through A-line skirt suit rendered in white leather – to the toffee-coloured suede coat dresses with stonking gold marine buttons; this collection zinged with confidence.
Blue denim – a Giannini favourite – was worked into swingy cropped culottes with exaggerated turn-ups and natty shirt dresses with maxi white shoelaces criss-crossing up the sleeves and across plunging necklines. Blousy boho dresses in subdued retro prints were topped with gilets bursting in deluxe patchworks, crafted from snakeskin, Mongolian and glossy goat hair.
The palette – and those furs and suedes leaned more towards autumn than summer – something that seems to be less of a trend and more of the norm in many of the collections to date. It’s now the job of the resort collections in which to flaunt summer colours and fabrics. These clothes will land in store in February, at a time when most of us aren’t thinking about shedding our coat – let alone much else.
Shorter hemlines did all point to one thing: the floor-skimming gown is officially over – suddenly, even the very idea of it seems outdated. Instead, Giannini proposed Oriental-style dresses with Mandarin collars and embroideries as precious as an antique piano shawl.
This collection had sass, glamour and commerciality in spades – and that’s not even counting the stacked heel suede boots and leather saddle bags in polished antique tan – everything in fact that women want from Gucci. Kate Moss and Charlotte Casiraghi (who is the new face of Gucci cosmetics – a new category debuting today with Pat McGrath as artistic director) applauded from the front row. Either one of them would look terrific in any and all of it.
To shop more Gucci visit: www.gucci.com or click below to shop the Spring/Summer 2015 Gucci collection: