In the third and final part of Alessandro Michele’s ‘trilogy’, the creators become the performers as Michele’s own design office takes centre stage
There’s a duality to Alessandro Michele’s Gucci: on the one hand it’s about the idea of individuality; on the other, it’s about the idea of a community, a gathering of kindred spirits. “I don’t know if you remember the words at the end of the show in Milan: there was Federico Fellini, talking about the way he worked,” the designer told Alexander Fury in a recent interview for AnOther. “‘A movie camera, some friends around willing to help, a crew, an extraordinary crew. A circus crew, really.’ I really felt also in Milan that all of us, me, you, everyone, we are the same community, loving the same things. And in a magical way, in this time, particularly in this time, we were all very close to each other.”
This duality was present, in abundance, in the designer’s latest collection for the house, which was presented through a special live stream and visual narrative feature, directed by London-based filmmaker and video artist Akinola Davies, this afternoon – on the last day of the first-ever Milan Digital Fashion Week. Entitled Epilogue, the collection was just that: “a conclusive chapter in the narrative arc that began with his last show An Unrepeatable Ritual, when he started celebrating the magic of fashion by unveiling what lies behind the curtains of a beloved liturgy”. This “final act” represents a continuation of the experimentation Michele has been engaging in of late; of toying with the traditional fashion rules.
This experimentation is a direct reflection of – and result of – the circumstances we find ourselves in today, in the age of coronavirus. Again, speaking to Fury, Michele said, “It’s so strange, because it’s just that this strange time gave me the chance to experiment, to do something that I really wanted to do. It was never the right time. Before the lockdown forced everybody in this kind of situation, at the last show in Milan, there was a kind of a strange creation.”
What this translated to was a show in February that celebrated the art of the fashion show itself and a campaign in May that was created by the models themselves – sans hair stylists, make-up artists, or even a photographer. Today saw another break from the traditional fashion rules. Following six hours of live-streamed preparation, this “final act of the fairy tale” began, broadcasted from the Palazzo Sacchetti in Rome. Here, Michele’s own design office took centre stage, with the clothes modelled by the people who designed them: the creators became the performers, starting with handbag designer Beatrice Gianni.
“Well the collection, in short, is the end of the beginning of an experiment,” narrated Michele. “It’s an attempt to use fashion as a space, in particular as an experimental lab. And this is my experiment … Narrating it this way, and presenting it in this way … is interesting to me as an element that dissociates the narrative of fashion from the show, from the representation of itself.”
The collection bore all the trademarks of Michele and his design office’s idiosyncratic sense of style. It also contained some collaborations: with Disney, featuring Donald Duck; with the designer and “fashion gardener” Ken Scott; with Liberty, culminating in floral and paisley prints; and with Japanese manga character Doraemon – all of which served to reinforce the designer’s message of eccentricity, eclecticism and experiementation. As well as his brilliant sense of fun.