It seems a happy coincidence that on Wednesday, as Alessandro Michele prepared to show his A/W18 collection for Gucci in a space which couldn’t have been more photogenic, Instagram announced that the creative director has the most engaged Instagram following of any designer using the platform. It isn’t difficult to see why; the Italian designer’s online obsession with the Baroque and the bizarre is as multifaceted and intriguing as the new universe he created for the brand when he first took the helm in 2015. As AnOther Magazine’s editor-in-chief Susannah Frankel writes in the S/S18 issue : “Michele’s Instagram feed adds grist to the mill. Close-ups of old master paintings – a menacing gargoyle, a nobleman’s lily-white hand – ancient coins, misty city- and landscapes, key chains on a rosy carpet, a pair of especially elaborate antique doors.”
The appeal of his account – titled @lallo25 – lies in the portal it offers followers into the cacophonous Gucci mindset; one that has disrupted the storied Italian house with some truly spectacular – and at times undecipherable – codes. “The world in question spans continents, cultures and centuries: Ancient Rome, Tudor England, Medieval France and – unsurprisingly given his progeny – Renaissance Italy, 30s Paris, 70s London – he remains a committed Anglophile – 80s Harlem... The list goes on,” writes Frankel of Michele’s impossibly varied references. “To call Michele a magpie, with that in mind, would be to underestimate the overload and sheer breadth of information that infuses his every collection, from social media and pop iconography – Disney, to name just one – to Botticelli.”
Michele is astutely aware of the increasingly blurred boundaries between online and offline. As a creative director, he has embraced new forms of media – particularly in campaigns – piquing the interest of a generation of digital natives who are bombarded with endless sources of information. He understands their attention span, and how quickly things must shift to remain relevant. “We are not in the 80s when there were just magazines and books. Now it’s like another world. You can’t keep using the same language, that would be like singing where everyone else is dancing,” he told Frankel. “When Gucci started, it was another age. If you bought a Gucci bag, you belonged to the jet set. The jet set doesn’t exist anymore. I’m trying to speak to the world, to everyone.”
And how does he do that? With snapshots of vintage furniture; close-up photographs captured in museums and art galleries that narrow in on some unobserved detail of a painting; or simply in a satisfying and utterly accessible image of a bee perched on a blue and white linen cloth. Innately universal, Michele’s visual language speaks multitudes – as all 304K of his followers will attest.