Gucci presented it's unusual and thrilling Fall / Winter RTW collection on Wednesday, February 21st at Milan Fashion Week.
From fantastic creatures, preserving the deceased, Major League Baseball, and body jewellery paired with balaclavas - this collection at first glance seems to be all over the place. Look again and upon inspection you'll find that behind the clash is a deeper message. Alessandro Michele's collection illustrated much more than just the physicality of clothing.
Before we start with the collection and the bizarre accessories seen on the runway, we must start at the beginning with the mysterious invitation. Inside a sealed Ziploc bag sat a bright orange digital timer, counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until the show. "Parental Advisory, Explicit Content" was printed below the teasing descending numbers. At the rear of the timer, "Warning" prominently cautioned the reader, with the date, time, and location of the show below it. Puzzled, intrigued, and excited were the reactions of those invited - and with good reason.
February 21st shortly arrived. Those invited were welcomed into a blinding room under LED lights. Operation tables lay amid a claustrophobic space enclosed by sea green walls with fire doors and panic bars. Tension arose in the unsettling atmosphere. You almost instantly felt uneasy - but then again, being comfortable wasn't supposed to be the point.
"We are the Dr. Frankenstein of our lives," explained Alessandro Michele. "There's a clinical clarity about what I am doing. I was thinking of a space that represents the creative act. I wanted to represent the lab I have in my head. It's physical work, like a surgeon's," continued the designer when discussing his show, which he named Cyborg.
Daunting, choral music featuring sounds of dead phone lines and heart monitors echoed the room as the first model appeared. She wore a tweed suit with "NY" prominently printed across the jacket with a striped blouse underneath. Paired with classic black loafers, the model carried a GG monogrammed lunchbox. She walked down the runway, taking trancelike steps in a ghostly manner.
The collection flourished. Oversized, tartan coats paired with stud-embellished jeans were seen on the runway. Sequinned jackets with confetti-like bell sleeves were paired with checkered skirts. There were velvet dresses with extravagant head and body jewellery. A mesh logo printed two piece was paired with a Chinese pagoda hat. "NY" printed coats were draped over folk-costume dresses paired with Russian babushka headscarves. The list could go on. The mix and match of patterns, textures, fabrics, and colours constituted one big clash. It was a good kind of mess. Logos were seen everywhere and companies including Major League Baseball and Paramount were featured on countless pieces.
The most astounding and jaw-dropping touches amidst the already clustered array of clothing? Oh not much, just a model carrying a curled up baby dragon. Another model carried a coral snake from the Gucci bestiary. Then there was the casual appearance of severed heads with faces replicating the models carrying them. No big deal.
Different cultures were thrusted into every look. How people form their identities when we come from a generation surrounded and influenced by the power of technology, social media, art and entertainment industries played a very important role in Michele's collection. It was a metaphor for what we were, who we are, and what the future will lead us to be.
"We exist to reproduce ourselves, but we have moved on. We are in post-human era, for sure; it is under way," explained Michele when discussing the break down of binary and fixed categories of gender roles that is evident throughout the collection. Challenging the "normal / abnormal," rejecting the separation of "human / animal" and being liberated from the confined box of natural conditions we are born into is something Alessandro is optimistic about. "Now, we have to decide what we want to be," he stated.
Deemed a creative genius of his time, Alessandro Michele is nothing short of a true artist. Labels and constructs, whether they be social or cultural, are so last year. This is what fashion is all about. It has never just been about the clothes, but about the world we live in, the people we are, the celebration of our differences, and the appreciation for others we live amongst, human or not.
By: Isabel de Carteret