Inside The Gucci Universe, According to Alessandro Michele
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.
(Related: Gucci's Latest Campaign Is Out Of This World)
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.
WHO IS GLEN LUCHFORD?
These campaigns were more than just static images of the highly-stylised fashion spreads we have grown accustomed to seeing in the pages of a glossy magazine. They are film stills of a wider Gucci movie that could make it onto the silver screen. Michele knew that to understand his clothes, one had to be immersed in an entire world that was just as colourful as the things he made. He tasked British fashion photographer Glen Luchford, who got his start taking pictures of skateboarders in his hometown of Brighton, to help materialise his vision of cinematic masterpieces. Together, the pair created a universe that was whimsical (with the help of playful song and dance sequences), slightly ridiculous (models battling a giant T-Rex on an alien planet in another) and witty (film buffs would be able to spot the iconic movie references sprinkled throughout).
In fact, his latest spring/summer 2019 campaign is a playful ode to cinema featuring some of the technicolour musicals of Hollywood’s golden age, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Cover Girl (1944). This was no doubt befitting of a collection that was inspired by the legendary Le Palace Club Paris, the playground of fashion wunderkinds of the 1970s and ’80s including Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Issey Miyake and Kenzo Takada.
By creating such a cinematic universe, it is as if Michele is inviting you to experience a world where the clothing isn’t the main focus, but rather just the things that the characters wear to partake in their adventures. And that is the sheer power of cinema. When done right, it provides a form of escapism from your dreary, everyday life to one of wonder and amazement. After all, to live in an imaginary world where everyone is clad in Gucci and armed with the possibilities to do anything they want, who can say no to that?