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Fashion

Alessandro Michele Is The Genius (And Formerly Unknown) Designer Who's Changing The Face Of Gucci Now

What makes Alessandro Michele the perfect man for the top job at Gucci: He knows its DNA intimately enough to modernise the house codes, and has successfully turned the Gucci girl into a free-spirited, worldly heroine.

The new Gucci girl

She has been variously described as an “ingenue with an eccentric side” by Style.com, and a “manic pixie mash-up of Margot Tenenbaum and Moonrise Kingdom’s Suzy with a dash of Grand Budapest Hotel’s Madame D” by New York magazine. Call her what you will, but 42-year-old creative director Alessandro Michele’s muse, from her berets to geek-chic specs, is a mirror image of the 
free-spirited, worldly-wise heroine of every 
Wes Anderson movie. Think the Gucci girl, filtered through the indie screen king’s elegiac lens.

alessandro michele fall winter 2015

From left: Silk-blend suit and wool beanie; silk creponne midi dress; tulle top, leather midi skirt, wool beret, and embroidered Dionysus canvas and suede shoulder bag.

It is an acknowledgement – perhaps for the first time in Gucci’s history – that there is a different kind of sexy. Less overt than the high-octane glamour and sleekness of the Ford and Giannini years, Michele’s interpretation is a modern play on the brain, as much as the body. For every delicate tulle top and lace camisole that lays bare the flesh, there is a quirky brooch or print that cleverly subverts the stereotype. The birds and the bees are a running theme throughout the collection. Yet when embroidered on the back of a cardigan or hand-painted over a classic monogram handbag, the allusions are so subtle that they serve as a cheeky wink, rather than outright feminist statements.

alessandro michele gucci

Alessandro Michele (right) is Pret-A-Porter’s Wes Anderson.

Fall Winter 2015’s take on luxury

The collection – like the best fashion – is a penetrating reflection of the times we live in. Gucci has always been about luxury, seduction and the jet-set life. And Michele, make no mistake, has kept these codes at the house’s core. The difference is that the clothes and woman have evolved to echo what is desirable today. 
In Michele’s mind, that is a creative freedom of expression that encompasses the fluidity and individualism pervading pop culture. “Luxury means that you are free to express who are you are, and dress with eccentricity,” he says. “It’s almost like a new kind of jet set – instead of roaming around the world, you’re roaming with your clothes.”

alessandro michele gucci fall winter female magazine

From left: Embroidered merino wool sweater, lace midi skirt and wool beret; Twill suit, wool turtleneck pullover, matching beret, and leather sandals with kangaroo fur; lace shift dress with grosgrain bow, wool beanie and leather pumps with mink fur pom-poms.

Quiet yet sensual

The materials used are as lush and precious as ever. The fur, however, isn’t played up on the collar of a coat. Instead, it decadently lines the inside of an updated slipper version of Gucci’s horse-bit loafer. Elasticated cropped pants come in sumptuous velvet that has been intentionally creased to create a vintage look. The hand-painted leather and linen suits were similarly pressed with the odd crinkle and fold. “The idea is that these clothes were packed away in an attic and have just been discovered and taken out by this stylish young girl,” 
I was told at the brand’s Fall/Winter 2015 presentation here in May.

The house signatures were also in evidence, just mixed up and modernised. The classic interlocking double-G looks old-school cool on a thin belt, worn with a scarlet pleated leather skirt and transparent tulle blouse. Likewise, the chevron – a house favourite – gains instant street-style cred when printed on an oversized pink and red fur coat.

alessandro michele gucci models fall winter female magazine

From left: silk creponne midi dress; silk satin georgette dress with mink fur collar, grosgrain bow with leather brooch, and wool beret.

A hybrid of influences and styles

In a modern age where borders, definitions and even distinctions between sexes cease to matter, Michele offers a wardrobe of vintage-inspired separates that can’t quite be placed in any era. “My apartment is full of antique pieces, but I put everything together like a modern installation,” he explains. In the same vein, his designs can be mixed and matched with differing degrees of pizzazz to suit an elegant or an eccentric dresser, a mother or a daughter, Spring or Fall. Perhaps, individuality at luxury houses, and in particular Gucci, is finally finding its voice again.

 

An adapted version first appeared in Female‘s September 2015 issue. 

Photography Hanfei Styling Imran Jalal

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