An entire generation of “Gucciers’’ – die-hard fans of the top Italian luxury label during its heydays in the 1990s – will now have to make a beeline for the headmistress’ office. Their misdemeanour? Daring to hope that new blood at the fashion house might inject some vamp into the vacuum chamber.
But anyone who sat up and took notes at the label’s recent Autumn/Winter 2015-2016 showcase would have seen the writing on the board – the new breed of Gucci woman has been stripped of exhibitionism in favour of geek chic.
Newly appointed creative director Alessandro Michele sent out Plain Janes with horn-rimmed glasses in place of glamped up supermodels, their sexuality doused with a mix of loose waistlines, flouncy skirts, girlish tops with bows. The only thing missing – pigtails.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that the days of slink are well and truly over – or are they? This look is, in effect, a complete U-turn of Gucci’s headline-making aesthetics of the 1990s, when Texan dynamo Tom Ford resuscitated the floundering luxury goods label with equal doses of bravado, creativity and his superstar good looks.
By the time he showed his last collection in 2004, he had restored Gucci’s lustre by replacing its dusty designs with body hugging gowns, zebra-printed blouses, faux fur coats and stiletto-heeled boots, and succeeded in taking the label to the international A-list just as many die-hard Gucci fans were looking to shift camps.
Many items were sold out as soon as they appeared in boutiques, and Hollywood stars waited in line to be dressed by him.
What a difference a decade makes. Anyone weaned on those collections, and Ford himself, will surely pop a well-defined blood vessel at the thought of the new Gucci diva-turned-librarian.
After Ford left the brand, Italian designer Frida Giannini was left with pretty big boots to fill and she attempted to change Gucci’s style by focusing on the brand’s heritage. To cut a long story short, her abrupt departure at the beginning of this year was attributed to slumping sales and rumours of in-fighting as the luxury brand slid down a slippery slope.
Perhaps the time has come for Gucci’s legacy of creativity to move up front and centre without being overshadowed by showmanship – and one-upmanship. Michele, relatively unknown in the fashion world until now, has found himself in the position of having to steer forward a once very successful fashion house, but one that needs a quick shot in the arm if it is to play catch-up in the fashion stakes.
But what he, and everyone who loves this elegant and once instantly recognisable of Italian labels, must ask is: do Gucci and geek go together? One thing the fashion house can’t afford is to be caught napping again while the brave ones go out to play.
■ This article was originally published in Life Inspired, out every second and fourth Sunday of the month, and distributed exclusively with The Sunday Star to selected areas in the Klang Valley. The next issue will be out on April 12.