Gucci turns 100 this year. Michele’s new collection “Aria” is a celebration of that milestone with a touch of Balenciaga – and a collection that clarified his own vision to its core.
Michele picked up on Gucci’s equestrian codes, giving them a fetishistic spin. Monogram canvas coats piped with leather referenced its beginnings as a luggage house for which Guccio Gucci’s drew inspiration from his years as a bellhop at the Savoy in London. Riding jackets, boots and helmets celebrated Gucci’s equestrian roots, which Michele fetishised into the harnesses and floggers of bondage iconography, much like Madonna before him.
“It is an ultra-pop party focused on the brand’s DNA. I wanted to create a rebirth for this brand; for this myth, for this saga.”
Michele paid tribute to Ford’s Gucci in a series of suits that recalled his former boss’s tailoring, and, when styled with fetish gear, evoked the highly erotic culture Ford created at Gucci.
“Tom was the first to realise that Gucci had this cult power: the power of symbols, a sort of magnetism, the power of a place I describe as a club.”
He also reprised one of Tom Ford’s greatest hits, the red velvet tuxedo from fall 1996 that Michele said “made Gwyneth Paltrow famous,” with tweaks including new, more pronounced shoulders, a leather harness, and versions for both men and women.
More surprising were the pieces that Michele lifted—or “quoted,” to use the company parlance—from Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga, another brand in the Kering stable.
With Gvasalia’s permission, Michele used some of the Balenciaga designer’s iconic shapes and symbols, including the padded hip jacket of fall 2016 and spring 2017’s spandex peplum top and leggings. All these things mixed and mingled with his own symbols—glitter for day, copious amounts of marabou, and anatomical heart minaudières encrusted with rhinestones—alongside a vital new emphasis on classic tailoring.
“Demna really enjoyed the idea of me using his styles to transform them into something else. It’s not fashion stealing from other designers, but I went to a friend’s house to steal. Here, I don’t feel the burden of the history some French brands have.”
When outerwear sprawled with Gucci’s double-G monogram with Balenciaga’s diagonal logo plastered on top appeared, the cross-over went full Avengers. If it wasn’t the Marvel-verse, it was the Kering-verse – the parent company that owns both houses.
“Young people look at the brand as a platform, a place. They visualize Gucci a million different ways, a million different times.”
In merging two logo-spurring giants, Michele may have created the most bullet-proof merchandise of the social media-driven fashion era. It was a meeting of superhero designers.