Alessandro Michele has crafted his own distinct era at Gucci — one full of exuberance and art. But, as the brand marks its 100th anniversary, the creative director transformed Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2021 “Aria” collection into a celebration of his predecessors and collaborators including Tom Ford (who helmed Gucci from 1994-2004) and Demna Gvsalia, currently creative director of Balenciaga. To the swell of Lil’ Pump’s 2017 hit ‘Gucci Gang,’ models walked a slick white hallway surrounded by flashing cameras — it was past, present, and future all at once.
“To escape the reactionary cages of purity, I pursue a poetics of the illegitimate,” Michele explains in the show notes. “In this sense, Gucci becomes for me a hacking lab, made of incursions and metamorphoses. An alchemical factory of contaminations where everything connects to anything. A place where thefts and explosive reactions happen: a permanent generator of sparkles and unpredictable desires. On this occasion, then, I want to honour my filial affection betraying the legacy that was handed down to me. Because the promise of a never-ending birth is only renewed through an evolving capacity.
Within the collection, Michele also manages to address the future while also alluding to the past. Founder Guccio Gucci was once a bellboy at London’s Savoy Hotel, and the iconic locale’s name popped up throughout. He cites the Old Hollywood glamour of Marilyn Monroe but contextualizes such dressed-up fashion as today’s customers clamber again for an opportunity to put on something fancy and go out and celebrate. He also alludes to the history’s long tie-in to the equestrian, reimagining the horsebit motif across harnesses (again a nod to Ford’s refined sexuality), hats, and boots. And, in typical Michele style, he punctuates the runway with bright ‘70s era prints, bold sequins, and multi-hued lace.
The nods to Gsvalia are both obvious — in the form of co-logo-ed coats and suiting (staples that will surely become collector's items). But, there are many more subtle touches that play to the former Vetements designer’s signature aesthetic. Sharp shoulders, oversized outerwear, and a futuristic edge that can at times be unsettling. And though the crossover (or ‘hacking lab’ as Michele refers to it) is unusual, the fact that both brands share Kering as a parent company is likely the reason for the cross seeding’s existence.
At the end of the 15-minute runway film (which you can watch in total above, the fast-walking models finally break from their runway prison, walking through the door of a dark club and into a sun-drenched urban Eden. The fact that Michele’s clothes can exist naturally in such extreme contexts is a testament to the power of his place in Gucci’s history, too.