Gucci AW18 Fashion Show: Getting A-head In Fashion
Alessandro Michele celebrates self-expression with a surgically themed runway show complete with decapitated heads.
BY Norman Tan | Feb 22, 2018 | Fashion
No, that’s not a typo you see in the heading—we literally mean getting “a head” (not “ahead”) in fashion. I mean, what's a Gucci show without some severed heads for a healthy dose of showmanship? Very a-head of the curve. See what we did there?
There were three main things different about this Gucci show from previous outings. First, the show started on time. Say what? I know right. Seasoned show goers will tell you that fashion shows always start at least 20 minutes late if it’s a men’s show, and a good 30 minutes after the scheduled time if it’s a women’s collection. For Gucci autumn/winter 2018, the unified men’s and women’s show started at 3.07pm; just seven minutes after the scheduled time. I had to run in my silk brocade and fur-lined Gucci loafers (recently purchased from the Gucci Garden museum in Florence, mind you) just to make it to my seat. But I guess that’s why the invitation this season was an orange countdown timer. At 3pm all the orange timers went off in unison; a cacophonous digital beep to signal our appointment to see designer Alessandro Michele’s latest creations.
The Gucci AW18 show venue
Second, the show venue was surprisingly bright. Usually Gucci shows are cloaked in moody darkness, and for autumn/winter 2017, it was even presented inside an enclosed glass runway. Phone photography? Forget it. Which is why it was a sight for sore eyes to see the set all lit up like a doctor’s office. Which was kind of the point, actually. Gucci Hub (the show venue and also Gucci’s global head office) was transformed into one long operating theatre—complete with operating tables and overhead circular lamps—bordered by clinical green walls. And when the models stepped out onto the runway, they carried a decapitated head (eerily similar replicas of their own heads, complete with matching hairstyles) cradled under their right arm (see looks 6 and 7). As @diet_prada posted: Two heads are better than one. Sure. But given Michele’s penchant for disruptive progression, the title—“getting a head in fashion”—felt more appropriate. (Shout out to my fellow Australian journalist who shared this pun-tastic one-liner after the show. Used with permission. Grazie.)
Third, there was no final catwalk. Which was a real shame, because I wanted another look at those mind-blowingly ornate and eccentric ensembles. As with every Gucci show under the visionary direction of Michele, it’s always a visual smorgasbord. Besides replica human heads, there was a baby dragon carried by a female model wearing a black puff-sleeve top over a long skirt (look 57 with major Khaleesi vibes); a green Gecko held by a male model wearing a stone-washed denim boiler suit finished with white floral pearl embroidery (look 42); and a venomous coral snake dangling in the hands of a female model dressed in an encrusted blouson belted over a red silk dress (look 22). What’s the message here? Michele is presenting his “pluriverse” of subjective realities. Fashion as fantasy. Fashion as escapism. And ultimately, fashion as transformative self-expression.
There is an inherent inclusiveness to what Michele presents on the catwalk. From a binary double-breasted coat (one half crafted in red plaid, the other half in grey cool) to the final look of a fur coat covered in a gauzy overlay (not dissimilar to protective plastic covers found in a dry cleaners), the Gucci man and woman of today is a champion of self-acceptance and self-affirmation; style yourself however you like—there is no right or wrong, only what is honest and true. As the show notes iterate: “Gucci cyborg is post-human… the symbol of emancipatory possibility through which we can decide to become what we are.” And it is this message of creative self-identity that has captured the imaginations, and wallets, of fashion-lovers worldwide. “Gucci, whose performance was nothing short of spectacular, is amplifying its desirability across all markets,” stated the recent Kering press release, revealing a group recurring operating income of EUR2,948 million for 2017, an annual increase of 56.3 percent. (Gucci’s own revenue was up a staggering 44.6 percent.)
But in the sea of Michele’s creations, there were some lingering leitmotifs. Americana came to the fore in the form of baseball motifs (“NY” New York Yankees, “SF” San Francisco Giants, and “LA” Los Angeles Angels) applied to beanies and across the chest of single-breasted suits and cardigans (see looks 3, 14, 46 and 64); and, a stand out, the Paramount Pictures logo appliqued to an impossibly fabulous red lace gown with amorphous feathered sleeves (look 60). Favourite menswear looks? That three-piece houndstooth suit with slits in the blazer front to allow the wearer to rock it like a cape (look 9); that oversized and battered leather blouson with patchwork leaf motifs in snakeskin on the shoulders paired with a pinstriped blue shirt and pleated full trousers (look 11); and for a dazzling finish, that chevron patterned tuxedo blazer with green and red sequins (look 17). You be you.