GUCCI SS20 – Alessandro Michele Dials Back the Volume at Gucci
The allure of Gucci transcends boundaries and Alessandro Michele is regarded for his theatrical symbolic presentations. From replica heads of models (FW18) to dramatic masks that aim to provoke (FW19), his ingenious, larger-than-life presentations encapsulate the Gucci we have come to know and love today. However, this season, Alessandro Michele dials back the volume at Gucci, in what could be his most simple presentation yet.
Clanking sounds and the opening of door grills signalled the start of the show. Followed by the illuminating flash of white lights that irradiated the psychedelic red-lit room. As the travelators started to move, models dressed in all-white “uniforms” likened to straightjackets and utilitarian clothes appeared on the moving runway. There was a clear sign of constraint in this opening number as the models stood aimlessly on the travelator to suggestive soundbites that included “I don’t think…I don’t even know what normal would be” and “the plan is to be happy”.
The set was almost sterile and clinical, setting the tone for Alessandro’s SS20 theme titled “New Forms of Subjectification”. Are we subjected to conform to the oppressive rules dictated by society and the environment we live in? Or do we live for ourselves? And how can we do it through fashion?
Within a few minutes, everything went pitch black. It was a semi-dramatic prelude that heightened the senses and marked the beginning of what’s to come – a blank slate, somewhat. And as the lights illuminated the room once more, Alessandro’s answer to this thought-provoking question came to life. Models strutted down the moving runway with a quiet sense of ease and radiating confidence. There were no baby dragons in sight. In its place, was a singular focus on individuality and the freedom of expression through sleek and elegant clothes. It was a celebration of identity.
Bourdoir-esque pieces dominated the runway – lace inserts, flowing sheer dresses and deep-V necklines were prominent as were sleek high-slit midi skirts. One might be quick to allude the inspiration to kink, sex and BDSM given the amount of leather, striking riding crops and splashes of the word “Orgasmique” seen on the runway. One might even suggest that this overt sexiness was out of the ordinary for Gucci. But let’s not forget Gucci’s Equestrian heritage or Tom Ford’s provocative tenure at Gucci. It was a clever and sexy homage to the brilliance of the House, so to speak.
Vintage-inspired silhouettes also reigned supreme. There was a heavy dose of ’70s and ’90s-inspired looks that permeated the catwalk in bursts of colours – refined suiting with the instantly recognisable flared trousers sashayed down the runway in abundance. The nod to the ’70s and ’90s was interesting as the former was a historic era peppered with movements that were heavily influenced by freedom of self-expression while the latter saw fashion designers thrive in their creative habitat. Coincidence maybe? Or not. Either way, the borrowed silhouettes lent an air of depth and meaning to the SS20 show which championed freedom of expression and identity.
The show notes referenced French philosopher Michel Foucault whose primary works focused on the relationship between power, knowledge and social control. Through this stimulating presentation, Alessandro questions fashion’s role in creating a new form of subjectification as well as its counter-productive role in generating restraint. In this strenuous struggle of tug and war over control and power, “Can fashion offer itself as an instrument of resistance?”. Gucci’s SS20 show though stripped back, was a generous reminder that amidst the restraint and noise that society (or even fashion) creates, there was plenty of room to break free. Fashion was an antidote and it served an important purpose: “to let people walk through fields of possibilities.. where the desire of the self can shine”.