For a good start of Milan fashion week, at the very beginning of the Gucci show, the curtain was pulled back on the frenzied sort of preparations that typically happen backstage of any runway presentation. On a rotating carousel, bathrobe-clad models were quickly trussed and styled by fleets of dressers in gray Gucci smocks before taking their place along the stage’s edge. The vintage-feeling clothes, which included big hats and opera gloves, were no less theatrical – there were frilly baby-doll dresses, bell-bottom suits in pastels and baroquely ruffled ball gowns, inspired, said Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, by the idea of a mother dressing her child for a special occasion. What truly appealed to me in this show is Michele’s embrace of the dress-up ritual. It can be spontaneous, planned, conscious or unconscious, one day you can look like Janis Joplin, another be a goth lolita, and then on Friday be the S&M-version of Marie Antoinette. The opening look perfecly showed the theme of the collection: a confused-looking model in one of those gowns, with a chunky knitted sweater over her head.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
A huge pendulum ticktocked back and forth, drawing a line in the sand beneath it. The mood felt far more sober that usual. Time for reflection? “Fashion is a sort of clock,” Alessando Michele rightly observed after his Gucci autumn-winter 2020 collection for men. Michele’s very first show – of a collection assembled in only five days after Frida Gianini’s abrupt departure – was held at the Milan menswear week in January 2015. And who would have thought it’s impact will be this big – not only for Gucci, but fashion in general? Michele referred back to that first collection – the open-back kangaroo-lined loafers that were his first big accessories hit were among the footwear in the new collection. But this was not self-reference for the sake of it. “I haven’t got any nostalgia,” he said. “I don’t cling to the past…. I use the past because the past is a very interesting space.” Grannyish knits and David Bowie-ish metallic flares, Kurt Cobain-ish grungy ’90s denim and a Courtney Love-ish leopard-print coat. Those were the first references that came to mind. And the tongue-in-cheek title of the show – ‘Rave Like You Are Five’? Most of the clothes were styled the way children wear their clothes when parents aren’t around: the way they like, not the way they areobliged to. Michele was also exploring the big idea of the season: an emphasis on the potential boundarylessness of masculinity rather than its long-constructed boundaries. “This is not a narrative that excludes or rules out mainstream masculinity; on the contrary, I want to talk about how complex it is to be a man. And this means growing up maybe in a different way because the world of men is very diverse and full of different elements like the feminine world.” But what I enjoyed the most in this collection was the lack of the Gucci-fied over-the-topness (which the designer signalised for the first time in his spring-summer 2020 line-up). Without all the drowning opulence that Michele made us used to in the last couple of years, you really feel and see his pure aesthetic.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Other than lots of pasta, art and Prada, Milan is of course fashion. It’s refreshing to see brands like Thom Browne emerge in Europe and labels like Balenciaga shaking up the vision of a retail space. Here’s a little dream shopping tour in the ‘fashion quartet’ of Milan’s Brera quartet… and it’s getting even better when you know that it’s 50% discount everywhere since the beginning of January!
What shocks you the most at Balenciaga are the mannequins standing at the entrance. Or rather two human corpses, which are hyperreal wax figures of two models of the brand. They are disturbing and even spooky. But it’s Demna Gvasalia’s world, so there’s no such thing as „basic”.
Via Monte Napoleone 23
Of course, Bottega Veneta is the busiest store in Milan. I overheard two women literally killing themselves for the last pair of block pumps in blue. That’s the Daniel Lee factor standing behind the brand’s accessories. Still, my heart belongs to the orange intrecciato shoulder bag.
Via Sant’Andrea 15
Off to the mountains for the holidays but still need a ball gown? The Moncler x Pierpaolo Piccioli duvet coat-dress is the only option.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 11/12
While everybody went crazy for the Mickey Mouse capsule that hit all the Gucci stores that day, I went mad for this faux fur coat. So dramatic.
Via Monte Napoleone 5/7
The killer heeled boots from Rick Owens. Not sure if they are made for walking, but they will elevate any silhouette. And those amazingly draped gowns in burgundy… they look incredible.
Via Monte di Pietà 13
Thom Browne’s preppy tailoring and quirky elegance is expanding in Europe. The Milan store – kept in the brand’s signature retro office style – is filled with Thom’s classics, as well as his fashion show garments (like the blazer with Una Troubridge intarsia illustration). My favourite item? The puppy slides.
Via Gesu 19
Loewe! The details! The William de Morgan capsule! Too many things to love.
Via Monte Napoleone 21
Jil Sander’s soft minimalism is always appealing. And it’s even better when styled with those calf hair wedge boots.
Via Pietro Verri 6
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.
Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.
Alessandro Michele‘s Gucci-fication.
The day when Alessandro Michele was appointed the creative director of Gucci, nobody had a clue what awaits the brand. Not only the unprecedented commercial success was a surprise, but also the completely new and idiosyncratic way for a big fashion brand to communicate globally with its audience. Today, you can’t imagine the fashion world without Michele’s vision of Gucci: opulent, rich, gender-blurring and absolutely Italian. His womenswear surprises with splendor and grandeur: it’s romantic, over-the-top and finds inspiration in the least predictable places (like bootcamp Gucci or Dario Argento’s horrors). Michele’s version of masculinity has become fashion’s predominant one: an idea not just for men in skirts but of men embracing loveliness, textural richness and glamour – things that not a while ago were reserved largely for women. Alessandro does things in his signature, retro-infused aesthetic with consistency – whether we’re speaking of the advertising campaigns (they are always out-of-this-world and jaw-dropping) or collections that can always be mixed together, creating a Gucci look.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.