In 2015, when the then relatively unknown Alessandro Michele was first tasked to take over Gucci as its creative director, no one would have predicted the cultural juggernaut that the Italian fashion house would eventually become. And in such a short time, no less. While Michele had already started working there in 2002 and was associate designer to former creative director Frida Giannini from 2011, there was close to no public information about him, or hints of the Gucci universe he was about to create.
And what a world he has created. With his highly original vision, Michele didn’t just rejuvenate Gucci, he made it relevant again. In 2017, the house reported a first quarter revenue increase of 51 per cent—its strongest in 20 years. It went through an entire rebranding exercise to position itself as fashion’s vanguard, even though it has a century-long history as a luxury house. Alessandro was presented as fashion’s messiah by an industry that was desperately craving for something new, and he was going to be Gucci’s saviour. And with his long dark flowing locks and beard, he even looked the part.
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WHO IS THE NEW GUCCI CUSTOMER?
First came the clothes. Michele created maximalist, gender-bending, vintage-inspired creations that wouldn’t look out of place in a thrift store, albeit an ultra-luxe one. The new Gucci customer was a fashion geek who didn’t conform to a traditional gender binary scale. Any sexuality that was exuded was ambiguous and left up to the wearer’s imagination. This was a far cry from the highly glamorous and sexualised campaigns by both his predecessors, Tom Ford and Giannini. (Who can forget Ford’s controversial spring/summer 2003 campaign featured a female model exposing her pubic hair shaved into the shape of the Gucci logo.) Michele created clothes that made you feel happy and included, and it was reflected in all extensions of the brand—from his high‑spirited fashion shows to the dream-like film sequences in the advertising campaigns each season.