February 27, 2024


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Why Gucci Staged a 12-Hour, Livestreamed Fashion Show

At the beginning of this year—wow, remember that?—fashion was getting really into Fashion. Marc Jacobs produced a collection of love letters to designers past, putting on a show that was essentially unintelligible on social media—and therefore the first You had to be there, darling event since Instagram redefined the way we take in and make clothes. Gucci staged its own February show in a see-through carousel that turned the process of assembling the show into the show itself. At Balenciaga, creative director Demna Gvasalia submerged the first few rows in water, suggesting that the fashion establishment was on a sinking ship.

That navel-gazing proved useful for Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele when the pandemic hit. He looked inside his fashion heart and found he did not like what he saw—a sentiment he shared in late May with the Instagram post “Notes from the Silence,” a faux-typewriter memo announcing his rejection of the relentless seasonally-mandated churn that is contemporary fashion.

<cite class="credit">Couresty of Gucci</cite>
Couresty of Gucci

On Friday, he closed the door on that old system with what he called Gucci Epilogue (ostensibly the brand’s Resort 2021 collection), installing surveillance cameras around an Italian palazzo while the brand was there shooting an advertising campaign for the collection to be released later this year. For about twelve hours—with a 20-minute reprieve to reveal the collection’s lookbook—the view switched between a makeup chair, a pair of models bouncing on a trampoline, a floral-suited fellow plucking grandmotherly lingerie, a mostly-empty antechamber filled with sunglasses and outerwear, and a few other scenes staged in the usual playing-dress-up-at-the-country-house-music-festival vibe that Gucci inevitably delivers.

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci</cite>
Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci

Exposing the utter banality of what should be glamorous—Behind the scenes of a fashion shoot!!!—was an effective evisceration of fashion’s longtime obsession with fantasy, which over the past decade has slid unfortunately and irreversibly into delusion. I watched a woman in a floral gown and matching turban with the world’s biggest chandelier earrings run with a giant pumpkin in a wheelbarrow down a garden path for a photo. Then I watched her do it over, and over, and over, and over again. (In my favorite segment, a camera simply rested on a big table of vegetables. Totally Warholian!) The fabulous photograph it will undoubtedly result in is the product of an arduous (boring!) process. The looks themselves were modeled not by the nymphian professionals usually found on Gucci’s runway but by Michele’s own team of accessories and clothing designers, a usually anonymous horde that most fashion houses hide behind the genius creative director with Oz-curtain oddness. Fashion is indeed turning ever more inward, but with a much more populist bent than it seemed a few months ago. The myth machine has been unplugged.

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci</cite>
Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci

This was right in line with what designers have called for in recent weeks: more real, more authentic, more honest, communicated through an emphasis on homelife and handcrafts, and a new wave of minimalism.

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of Gucci</cite>
Courtesy of Gucci

But for all of Michele’s thought experimentation over the past few months, his Gucci clothes haven’t changed much since he first jolted the runway with his raided-Granny’s-attic vibe in 2015. While some pieces that are now Gucci staples—the logo-kitsch tracksuits, the fur-lined loafers—may feel very 2018, the global thrift shopper aesthetic remains remarkably intact and appealing. This is in part, I think, because there’s something so millennial about Michele’s brand of pretension: the collision of historical eras, the incredible groovy color palette, the literal references of an Instagram Explore page autodidact. (I think often the Paris collection that featured Michele’s own version of Issey Miyake-style pleated plissé fabric—which in fact led to a revival of sorts for Miyake among fashion-y influencer types.)

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci</cite>
Courtesy of Mark Peckmezian / Gucci

So if Michele’s work has a new valence, the change is in who is wearing it, and how it’s styled. Starting last season, Michaele softened the shoulders on his tailoring, and slubbed out his previously shrunken knits to something more Cobain-y. But he also stripped back his signature blitz of styling—piled-on belts, layered hats, gloves, and bags on every shoulder—so the whole thing just looks more personal. I wrote earlier about how digital fashion week presaged dressing up as a sort of political act, but it also seems that consumers (and a few designers) are really beginning to prize personal style over fashion. Rather than the big name on the label, it’s the small touches, like the flip of the cuffs or a pair of earrings, that personalize an outfit. Under this relaxed new regime, the fussy old Gucci boy upgrades to something beefier: jorts with a big old sheepskin vest; Daffy Duck denim vest over shorts in the flower power prints of ’60s designer Ken Scott; 80s jeans and a puffer with chunky dad sneakers and the very ladylike bag that Jackie O. carried. The employee-models look like you might imagine Gucci employees actually dress. You always wonder: who are those people actually designing your clothes? Well, here they are!

Michele’s earnest message is well-suited to this truly un-cynical moment. He sent many editors and industry viewers a big box of produce, and several of his designer-models clutched bunches of carrots or squash in the livestream. Vegetables ripening at their own pace—now that’s luxury.

Originally Appeared on GQ