Welcome To Gucci's Garden Of Extra-Terrestrial Delights

The Fall/Winter '17 collection runs wild with motifs.

BY Lestari Hairul | Sep 15, 2017 | Fashion

The predecessor of chemistry—back when people thought bad blood was a thing and leeches could get rid of them-was alchemy. In popular understanding, alchemy strove to transmute base metals into gold; somewhere along the way, talk of an immortality elixir also got thrown into the mess. These days, with everybody having gone through secondary school chemistry, alchemy appears to be far more exotic. It calls to mind the mixing of strange liquids and materials to form a concoction. Sexier than basic chemistry.

Alessandro Michele names his latest collection for Gucci the Alchemist’s Garden. And what a concoction it is. Maddening in the sheer variety of themes and motifs, it is a fantastic trip through the designer’s magpie-like brain. But it is this mishmash, this hodgepodge that exists in all but the blandest of humans. To paraphrase Whitman, we contradict ourselves for we are vast and contain multitudes. So, you’re rocking a beanie and a striped scarf, nothing’s going to keep you away from swishing down the street in robes reminiscent of a mandarin’s.

Contradictions and strange juxtapositions may be jarring, but Michele’s managed to meld them well. Could it be that harmony can be found in chaos? If the continual mess in our brains as we fail and grow, dream and achieve is anything to attest by, that’s surely what existence is. You may be a hot mess, but damn, you’re hot.

Here are a few motifs prevalent in this collection; see if you can pull them together in your own look.


Ever felt the desire to scribble across your most expensive designer gear? To ruin it with vandalism? Gucci’s got that sorted, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about it since they’ve enlisted the help of Spanish artist Coco Capitán. Scrawled across backpacks, T-shirts, hoodies, knits and coats are such charming lines like, “What are we going to do with all this future?” and “Common sense is not that common”. It seems like, this season, the big names are keen on telling us things with words.

It’s not called the Alchemist’s Garden for nothing. There’s even a nod to one of England’s most famous, emblazoned across the back of a coat replete with a pastoral scene, and to drive the point home further is a massive embroidered beetle. Boys and girls get flowers in this androgynous gender-mixing collection and walk the runway together, a first for Gucci. Floral prints from Gucci’s scarf archives decorate the garments, sometimes a touch of a butterfly, a moth or a flower peps up an otherwise straight-edged suit. And if you’re thinking of garden in the otherworldly sense, there’s also a touch of the extra-terrestrial and Trekkie to some of the prints. Makes sense, all the effort to get to Mars must involve a great deal of terraforming.


The flowers, the almost counter-culture messages, the cultural sampling can only point to a significant era that we love to keep reviving: the ’60s. There’s a touch of mod, a dose of the hippie, maybe a smidgen of political awakening in some vaguely revolutionary messages, all tied up in silhouettes that hark back to the era. The ouroboros represents some significance for Michele in the conception of the collection and, looking at it as a whole, perhaps it is simply the nature of the fashion world. We keep consuming the same trends that we reproduce every few decades or so. One can only hope that the #woke generation can inspire the same kind of decade-defining obsession that the ’60s have.

Chinese frog fasteners, Japanese parasols, strange dog-cat-demon prints reminiscent of Hannya masks, Oriental-ish brocade and Tibetan hats—never in a true-to-form appropriation, but subsumed and assimilated into the greater design of things. East meets West harmoniously, and you really need to notice the details to see the inspiration, so well integrated are they.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, September 2017.