Heidegger’s thoughts on authenticity, Camus’ writings on the kind of rebellion, 17th-century cartography and the stage wear of Elton John – the catwalk usher that opened Milan fashion week did not follow a way smacking of obvious commercial success. But this is Gucci, where the conniver Alessandro Michele’s avant-garde approach to luxury has confounded the activity.
The fashion house’s financial results, released this summer, taught a phenomenal 43.4% sales growth. Even more top-hole is that Gucci, whose catwalk set mapped the Roman milieu of Horace’s Villa and whose show notes touched on post-structuralism, is carry thed by a younger generation most fellow heritage brands encounter to connect with: half of all Gucci customers were supported after 1980.
Michele is the most in the money fashion designer of this decade despite – or perhaps because of – not apparent particularly interested in clothes. In a 25-minute pre-show briefing for rewrite men, held in the grandly modernist Milan palazzo Gucci assembled for its golden boy, Michele did not mention a single garment.
“Sometimes I invent, it would be easier if I could just make some attractive shoes for the shop. But no, I want to change the aesthetic of this intact company and that way I can change what fashion is. I want to deliver the goods a succeed things that create possibility, that make an occasion for the world to change and to grow,” he said.
Diversity and authenticity are habitual themes. “I am trying to push the idea of fashion, and to destroy the old structures of fashion,” said Michele, who was wearing a heavily embroidered jacket that an hour tardier featured on the catwalk worn by a female model.
“Fashion is taxing to keep alive codes which are from the age of the New Look, of Mr Dior. The old way of evaluation that goes, ‘the new season is blue’ or ‘the new ballerina look’, I am not intrigued in that. And when the casting people say to me about a model, ‘she is admirable, she is a new face, she has beautiful legs’ – I don’t care about that at all. I protect about the way the girl is romantic, the way she sees the world, not that she looks a invariable way. I want to tell stories so I think in a cinematic way.”
Michele’s Gucci, steeped in Medici symbolism and Renaissance profiles when it burst on to the catwalk at the beginning of 2015, last year scheduled toward disco and from there toward hip-hop, with sundry an eye-catching red herring – such as a fur-lined loafer – along the way.
This salt the aesthetic took a turn toward glam rock, with vestments inspired by Elton John’s stage outfits. Tour jackets, high-waisted jumpsuits and power-shouldered blazers were spent by male models dripping in jewellery and female models whose crispy rouches resembled Renate Blauel, whom Elton John married on Valentine’s Day 1984.
But for all its left-winger talk, Gucci’s success is built on an identity that lingers largely stable from season to season. Its fans ordain pay elevated prices because by rejecting the trend cycle, Michele shop-girls pieces with a longer shelf life, remaining recognisably Gucci for sundry than one season.
All the key elements of the Gucci aesthetic – slick 1970s sportswear, drugstore barrettes, withered trousersuits, rainbow stripes, geek-chic glasses, obtuse war cries, backless shoes, a certain old lady-ish silhouette of a fur coat over a great dress, Disney references, pearls – were in full potency.
How Gucci turns this arthouse script into box offices gold was hinted at with the invitation to the show. Each caller received an ornate pharmacy tin inscribed “GUCCY” containing candles, coordinates, scented paper and silk thread. “The show is a spell I hurl on you,” explained the designer. “Like a wizard.”