'The way in which Michele blends a variety of cultural and historical references makes for a collection that is as rich in symbolic meaning as it is in aestheticism'YouTube: GUCCI

Alessandro Michele brings the height of the Italian Renaissance to Arles, France. Located in the Promenade des Alyscamps, a Roman cemetery in Arles, the show centred around motifs of death and religion. Michele transports us back to a world before ‘God is dead’ in the Gucci cruise show 2019 in a homage to the European aesthetic that continues to inspire him.

The collection feels both historic and epochally modern; an artistic experiment in the aesthetic sensibilities of sixteenth-century culture, yet the collection also speaks to the contemporary world. The imagery of fire and flames, the iconography and repeated motifs speak out to a modern world struggling with conflict and violence. Such themes were evoked not only through the collection itself, but enhanced by the flame-lined inferno that was the runway.

Gucci Cruise 2019 Fashion Show: Full VideoGUCCI

The sense of distance and cold superiority associated with high renaissance art and culture is here evoked in a way which is eerily complimentary to the tone of the catwalk. Stony faces and lofty walks are as at home in the world of high fashion as they are in the historical religious scenes invoked.

If this is the end of the world, it is a profoundly stylish and garishly cheeky way to go out. From hot pink boots peeking out of an old-fashioned gown to the geek glasses accompanied by cross necklaces, Gucci places contemporary high fashion in a context so far from its comfort zone to exquisite effect.

One area where Michele’s careful curation stands out is in the tone and colours of the pieces. Renaissance pastels and nudes create a consistent base from which pops of hot pink and turquoise, by far the colours of the collection, stand out.

The collection appears eccentric and unpredictable, yet this effect in itself is also masterfully curated

Of the 114 looks in the collection which mixed both menswear and womenswear, the ones that stood out included a stunning flared suit, midnight black with fluted bottoms. Other central pieces included the feathered white dresses worn with ungainly chunky trainers and accompanied by bouquets of flowers. Michele plays with the ugly and bold, alongside the delicate and soft. While much of the fashion world has been consumed by the trend of a dystopian techno-future, as can be seen in the recent collections of Wang and others, Michele’s looking to the past feels fresh and inspired.

Despite the heavy references to the Italian and European culture which has so heavily influenced and inspired Michele, the collection included an amalgamation of cultural and historical references. There was a notable reference to the late hat designer Frank Olive, in a piece that also mimicked the figure of a plague doctor, continuing the theme of death that underlay the show. The way in which Michele blends a variety of cultural and historical references makes for a collection that is as rich in symbolic meaning as it is in aestheticism.

Gucci may well have become a ‘religion’ in the fashion world following the brands transformation in recent years under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele. The Cruise 2019 show plays on the sacrilegious appeal of high fashion in a very literal way. It seems to evoke a sense of decadent sinfulness, enhanced by Gucci’s own plethoric style. Bright colours, garish prints, decadently over-sized fits: Gucci under Michele is one of the fashion houses that is so over-the-top that it shouldn’t work, and yet it does.

Eccentricity takes centre-stage, balanced by pin-points of the more traditional. Tweed evokes a more British tradition, re-calling Bailey’s Burberry or Westwood’s archetypal style. What’s more, while the collection is indeed eccentric and off-the-wall, what enables this is the stability and continuity in the base colours and shapes. The collection appears eccentric and unpredictable, yet this effect in itself is also masterfully curated.


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Capturing the essence of Gucci doesn’t involve buying the stereotypical Gucci belt or bag that every Instagram model and their mum has. The beauty of Gucci is in the artistic ingenuity of the creative director who reinvigorated the brand. Wear a second-hand dress that looks like it could have been someone’s wedding dress to your May Ball. Pile your hair in a way that Queen Elizabeth I might have approved. Switch out the clutch bag for a bouquet of lilies. Now you’re wearing Gucci.

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