Monday 23rd September

| BY Claudia Croft

Gucci: Ready-To-Wear SS20

This was to be a different kind of Gucci show. After four super successful years of establishing an enviably consistent code for Gucci (bonkers individualism meets maximalist styling) Alessandro Michele declared himself ready to change things up in pre-show interviews. The new mood was a bid to stave off boredom he said, and keep himself creatively engaged, so he challenged himself to pare back and to explore aspects of his Gucci woman he’d never exposed before. Sexiness was on his mind. “What happens if one of my girls should try to be sexy?” he asked.

He fixed on Gucci’s two great eras: 1970s, when the brand was the favourite of the jet set, and 1990s, when Tom Ford unleashed a powerful sexuality onto the globe. He described Ford as the King of fashion at that time and Miuccia Prada as the Queen, although her take on sexuality – a new non sexy sexiness – was in opposition to Ford’s. On top of that, he added his own powerful, modern narrative of fashion as a space for freedom and self-expression and a vital tool of individualism. Or as he said: “fashion as a space of poetical self-affirmation where the desire of the self can shine.”

The set was a cathedral-like airport space lined with rows of recycled plastic seating (this was an entirely carbon neutral fashion show but more of that in another piece) and four moving walkways. Onto them stepped the opening group of 21 models dressed in high fashion versions of heavy-buckled straight jackets, their faces blank and trance-like. The PC police would have plenty to say about that. Were they a warning of what might happen if you suppress self expression or was their plain white institutional garb a stylistic palette cleanser? The white-clad army disappeared in one direction, then the walkways reversed and onto the runway emerged Michele’s new sexy Gucci girls.

Long dresses with sheer breast revealing fronts, lace lingerie slips and vinyl gloves, horse whips. A large embroidered “Gucci Orgasmique” label was stitched to the front of many pieces. The collection was peppered with references to Michele’s 1990s fashion idols. A long black column dress with a cut-out floral motif loosely referenced Tom Ford’s slinky, jersey heights as did silky shirts unbuttoned down to there. Sheer chiffon shirts worn with big geometric patterned knickers nodded more to Miuccia’s cannon. The tailoring for men and women had a colourful 1970s kick but without the usual maximalist decoration you could appreciate the finesse of Michele cut. There was still plenty going on. Michele put boys in tiaras and shrunken puff sleeved jackets and girls in oversized workwear and accessories which were impactful. Huge sunglasses came with with hulking plastic librarian chains, while glittering butterfly brooches, horse whips, vivid green platform boots, mismatched trainers, cowboy boots, beanie hats and shotgun pellet anklets all fed into the Gucci universe. The choices were plenty. It’s exciting to see a restless visionary like Michele explore something new. Maximalism might be dead but Gucci powers on.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.