I have a confession: Alessandro Michele is a name I didn't know two years ago. Now however it is a name I can barely go a week without saying. Gucci's Creative Director made absolutely no effort to ease his vision into the esteemed house's history when he took the helm in January of last year. Instead, he arrived in a explosion of prints, patterns and textures, a stark contrast to the heightened glamour of Gucci past. Talk about an entrance. This season, (Gucci Cruise 2017) was no exception. In fact, it was a step up.
A complete and utter barrage of garish item after garish item, if someone had described the collection to me, I probably would have been appalled, but seeing it, is a completely different story. The collection that shouldn't make sense, some how, makes perfect sense. The collection that reads as "ugly" looks sensational.
In an age where "normcore" has reigned supreme, I cannot begin to express my relief, my excitement and above all my gratitude to Michele for bringing this collection into world. A bonafide acid trip of a normcore antidote, a big "fuck you" to the simplistic clean lines dominating the scene.
Interestingly, the anarchic yet indulgent array of looks was presented at the-far-from-rebellious Westminster Abbey, a stunning venue, rich in religious history and British heritage.
Michele's inspiration from British subcultures is clear. The menswear in particular looked as though 60s skinheads let their grandmother dress them. The womenswear reminded me of
Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style, Iris Apfel naturally came to mind, a sort of unapologetic way of styling, dropping co-ordination with reckless abandon.
The first look alone paired a rainbow-striped sweater with a cat appliqué, a tartan skirt with an embroidered dog on it, a snakeskin bag with bamboo handle, shoulder length earrings and a ring on each finger. By anyone's standards, that's a lot of look.
The rest of the collection showcased a psychedelic colour palette garnished with Union Jacks, turbans, fur, ball gowns, velvet, bleached jeans and oversized corsages, and yet miraculously veered clear of "costume" territory.
A collection this, dare I say it, insane, still manages to maintain an air of luxury. Perhaps because it is knowingly Gucci, perhaps because it was set against the backdrop of Westminster Abbey, but probably because it was so outlandishly daring to create such an opulent collection in a post recession world, where modesty is seen as conformity.
Teetering on the edges of luxury and kitsch, with a sharp injection of punk, the collection (much like Dior and Topman Design) was an undeniable celebration of Britishness. Our anarchic nature, our eclecticism, our heritage, all coming together in one resplendent vision.
My notes on this show included "Royal Tenenbaums - Margot would wear in daily life" and "Downton Abbey on acid", "The WI gone mad" and "Sid and Nancy meets Charles and Camilla". No one could have predicted those notes, reading them out of context sounds like the ramblings of a mad man (not a stretch) but yet, they seem to make sense when looking at the show.
I will forever be in support of anyone who inspires people to shun the norm, not to conform and not fear standing out. Fashion is here to have fun with, it's a celebration, and Michele continues to prove that nothing succeeds like excess.
HIGHLIGHT: BEES! I love bees. I even named my blog after them. And look here! A beautifully encrusted bee adorned a shoulder bag, one was appliquéd onto a letterman jacket and a sparkling pair of bees appeared on the sandals I am now clinically obsessed with. They're probably the only sandals I would ever even consider wearing. So beautiful. Must start saving.
Photos courtesy of Vogue Runway, guardian.com and Harper's Bazaar.