Controversy and Sex, Still Possible in 2019. Gucci SS20

Alessandro Michele‘s spring-summer 2020 collection for Gucci had to provoke one’s mind, but in the result it was confusing and sparked an unintended controversy. The first dozen of looks was the exact opposite of today’s Gucci: all-white, unadorned baggy clothes, and some of them were straightjackets that don’t affiliate with anything but psychiatric hospitals from the past. Pale, solemn models moved down the tape in these garments, and one of them – Ayesha Tan Jones – put her palms up so that the world could see: mental health is not fashion. Which I think was a brave thing to do, even after Michele and Gucci instantly published a statement explaining their action: uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straightjackets, were included in the show as the most extreme version of uniform dictated by society and those who control it. It’s hard to tell who’s right now, but in the end, the brand could exclude some of those looks from the entire collection, being aware of how it may be perceived (the statement also mentioned, that the brand won’t be sellingt these garments). The rest of the collection was surprisingly much less Gucci-fied than usual, which I liked. While in the five years of his tenure, Michele’s splendour-bordering-with-kitsch aesthetic seemed to win everything in the universe, the spring-summer line-up was cleaner, even minimal. It kind of felt like a nod to Tom Ford’s sex era at Gucci, but much more exaggerated. To the tune of Madonna’s super sensual Justify My Love, some of the models carried Gucci whips, some wore latex gloves and and sheer nightgowns, there were skirts with skin-revealing slits and dresses that had black and red lace inserts. Part of the collection was heavily inspired by 1970s – big flares, big glasses, satin suits – and it felt the least interesting. Still haven’t made up my mind about the line-up, but there’s one thing I wish to see Michele expand in his fashion: experiment with his personal opposites, style-wise.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.