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"The way the system works now, you see the clothes, within an hour or so they're online, the world sees them. They don't get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. They're in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. They're overexposed, you're tired of them, they've lost their freshness".
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2.01.2017

Gucci

You can often read about fashion philosophies, about a wish to embed clothes in a wider, more intense intellectual foundation. Yeah, yeah, right, it's a jacket. But what does it mean ? Gucci's fashion philosophy -as with most everything in the Gucci universe- has been recently upheaved, since the appointment of creative director Alessandro Michele. Basta to sexy, to the slick hangover of the Tom Ford glory years. Gucci's clothes look different, so the thinking behind them must be different too. Gucci today earnestly references philosophers like the Marxist theorist Walter Benjamin, cross-referenced like a well-pulled-together essay. Backstage, Alessandro Michele tugged at an Aertex vest, bearing a portrait of Snoopy. "You know", he mused, "Snoopy is like a philosopher". He was smiling. Gucci's philosophy today sits somewhere between Walter Benjamin and Snoopy, between highbrow and low culture. That you're thinking with your head and not with your groin is enough of a shift from the Gucci of yore, which was sexy and Seventies, and seldom anything else. Benjamin hypothesized to the conclusion that history is written by the victors -which is key to understanding what Gucci is going through at the moment. For a time, we saw only Tom Ford's victorious Gucci; then Frida Giannini's much less glorious imprimatur. Now, Alesdsandro Michele. History is being repeated, but also a little rewritten.
What this season's collection did was retread ground he's been covering for the previous year. It evolved it, a little, but it was about reaffirming the new creative direction of the house. Which, honestly, isn't that new. It's just a new edit of an existing script. It's new in the sense that fashion frequently is -reviving a moment that contrasts with that which immediately preceded it. Baudrillard once cited it as a dynamism of amalgamation and recycling. He hasn't been quoted by Gucci, yet. What has been quoted is the Seventies. "The Eighties is the most powerful image, for me, for the brand", stated Alessandro Michele. "The brand has a soul -and its soul is really that kind of Seventies moment". Oddly, he then called it "jet-set", which is the last thing you think of when you see his bedraggled silks and brocades, although the purposefully creased suits do look a little like someone slept in them on the red-eye. They are, of course, only one fragment of these complex, complicated Gucci collections -shown alongside Lurex knits, snakeskin suits, heels embedded with pearls, and sunglasses encrusted with crystal. An overload of decoration that sends you scribbling to record it all. No one will wear it -at least, not in that overwhelming entirety. But everyone can engage and relate with it. These collections are designed to be pulled apart by consumers, fashion shows as an engaging proposition of pieces rather than dictatorial, identikit aesthetic. There's nothing wrong with the latter, of course. But then, there's also nothing wrong with Gucci's approach. It's simply different. A different philosophy, a new way of looking at things. It is, however, terribly Gucci, and remarkably Italian. "A little Schiaparelli", murmured the designer, fingering an embroidered crystal eye on one piece. "I was thinking of Walter Albini", he said of another. Neither are the Italian designers that immediately leap to mind. "There is a stereotype of Italian fashion, of houses like Gucci", he said thoughtfully. "We have more than people think. I have a lot of things in my mind from the archive, but I don't want to be a prisoner of the archive. It's always the 'idea' that I have of the archive"... The idea of memory, rather than the actuality of history. And Gucci these days has no walls -genderless, seasonless, formal and casual mixed. It's about a freedom. And that is why so many people find it invigorating, and ignore perhaps the fact that, as individual garments, Alessandro Michele is offering not invention but reinvention, revival, and rehash.

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