After reading Susannah Frankel’s massive feature on Alessandro Michele in the latest issue of Another, there’s no wonder why Gucci‘s creative director is… the way he is. His mother worked in film industry and was the 50s, Hollywood loving female; his father was a free-spirited, as Michele says, shaman. Such clash of identities had to result in a single mind, as wildly creative as of Alessandro. The autumn-winter 2018 collection is an overdrive of explosive surprises, that convey a message: we all have an identity, whether formed by our surroundings, culture or interests.
The venue looked like a cosmic surgery room, with an operation table standing in the middle. Was it a metaphor that Dr. Alessandro (and Gucci) are here to shape your, who knows, expression? If yes, then it’s quite a struggle to decide which aspect of the collection should we start with. Maybe the models, who carried their heads (!), snakes and baby dragons? Make-up – if you still can call it that shallow way – that consisted of Frida Kahlo uni-brows and cyclop eyes? Or even Pussy Riot balaclavas, manga-inspired prints and velvet burqas? Still, the collection was not only true to Alessandro’s extremely eclectic style, but his Gucci-fiyed reality. Gucci logo is everywhere, from the silk scarf tops to the buttons a tweed jacket. Welcome to the Gucci ‘pluriverse’, where there’s no place for trends, conformity or lethal routine.
Some young designers appear on everyone’s lips thanks to their strikingly unique talent. Some luckily get to the mainstream by dressing a celeb, or rather an Insta-girl. Meanwhile, Richard Quinn‘s phenomenon got elevated through an exceptional combination: the guy has the talent. And, the guy had Queen Elisabeth II in his show’s f-row. I suppose the biggest names in the industry would be life-fulfilled after such an honour. For Richard, it’s just the beginning.
Quinn is the first recipient of Her Majesty’s British Design Award that is here to raise and support UK’s emerging fashion stars. With his knack for collage-ing and manufacturing prints in the most fantastic ways, there’s no wonder why the designer won. “It all feels a bit surreal,” Quinn exclaimed backstage of the show. “I only found out a few days ago that I’d won. When I saw the blue cushion on the front row, I knew it was real; I knew she was coming.” The emphasis that Richard puts on prints and patterns is impressive not only because he does wonderful ball gowns with a modern twist or floral-shocker puffas. It’s the sense of unity he builds among young designers and fashion students in London with his print studio in Peckham – it’s there, where he shares and lets for an open-access to printwork. And who would have thought that he has graduated with a master’s from Central Saint Martins just a few years ago? A bright, bright way future is there for Quinn, I believe.
When everyone’s sensitive towards the topic, Christopher Kane says it out loud: let’s talk about sex. The autumn-winter 2018 collection, similarly to the last season’s domestic kinkiness theme, enters the fields of sensuality like no other. The Joy of Sex, the 1972 illustrated guide of sexual positions and techniques by Alex Comfort, was the starting point for Kane. Some of the most expressive illustrations coming from the original version of the book appeared on the dresses, while mottos – ‘More Joy’, for instance – appeared on black knits and sweatshirts. The collection holds even more of ‘those’ moments, just slightly more subtly. Black leather was used for the coats and mini-skirts with lace inserts. Paneled, zippered dresses let for displaying or concealing different parts of the body – can be worn during the day and the night, how practical! Of course, Kane has in offer some less daring pieces, like chic suites or embellished midi-skirts. Still, the ‘provocative’ pieces are the strongest points of Christopher’s eroticism-in-fashion conversation.
So, what to expect from a designer’s final collection, especially after a 17 year-long tenure as a creative director and the person in charge for the brand’s business side? Well, pretty much anything. Christopher Bailey‘s last collection at Burberry was meant to be a blast. And there really are the reasons to praise the designer this season. “My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to – and in support of – some of the best and brightest organisations supporting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.” Pride and optimism was reflected in everything, from the puffas to sweatshirts covered in raibow. The Rainbow check, the latest iteration of Burberry’s most iconic symbol and designed as part of Christopher’s dedication of his last collection to LGBTQ+ communities, featured throughout the show. It was nice seeing that a brand like Burberry, so established and all, goes for an important matter!
Still, I’m on fence with this collection. The capsule of reissued archive pieces from the 1980s and 1990s rereleased felt new to Burberry, but the idea is quite pinched from Gucci’s current bootleg obsession. In overall, the collection was more Alessandro Michele, than Christopher Bailey. There were some clear signs of Demna Gvasalia and Phoebe Philo inspired tricks there and there – like over-sized, Vetements-y hoodies or Céline-ish lace dresses and plastic bags. In other words, I think the label tried hard this season to be relevant and look 2018. Nevertheless, Bailey had his big, last word to say with the collection. Where will we see him next? The time will tell.