MILAN (AP) — Gucci offered another January surprise to kick off Milan Fashion Week on Friday with a menswear presentation, taking a new direction following the departure of Alessandro Michele as creative director.
Much like Michele’s low-key debut eight years ago at the helm of the in-house team, Gucci’s runway show that heralded the new post-Michele era was an understated affair, quietly reshaping the codes of the brand founded in Florence more than a century ago as a luggage company.
Under Michele, fantasy soared with ever-escalating artistry and layers of embellishment in romantic collections that blurred gender barriers and intellectually challenged the fashion crowd with notes that referenced sometimes obscure thinkers.
Those embellishments have been removed, at least for now, with an easy-to-read collection.
Some of the highlights from Friday’s shows:
Gucci began its post-Michele era with a collection that refined a palette that carried hints of his influence, but which went in a decidedly new and free direction.
Devoid of eccentricity, the collection brought Gucci back to a set of basics with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe backed by a live performance of American guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog in the center of the amphitheater. Guests in the front rows were Nick Cave with his wife Susie, Canadian actor Percy Hynes White, who appears in the Netflix hit “Wednesday”, British actor Idris Elba and South Korean singer Kai.
Basic looks included oversized jackets with paper tops worn with drawstring trousers or long johns tucked into bright cowboy boots, with an emphasis on leg warmers. The color palette was muted, denim and khaki, gray and canary yellow, purple and icy blue.
There were still genderless references, but they were more glam rock than necessarily for the they/them demographic. The poet’s shirt had a deep, sexy V, but no pussy bow; Short-sleeved shirts and mohair sweaters were sheer, while long skirts seemed deconstructed from trousers and were paired with striped rugby shirts.
Many of these looks could fit into Michele’s catwalk, but they would certainly be layered with ideas, memories and memories expressed through unusual motifs and elaborate accents. The new collection, with its elongated, roomy silhouette and masculine edge, seen in oversized mechanical overalls and motorcycle combinations, will be a more comfortable fit for many.
The collection was designed by an in-house team that did not bow out after the show.
RECYCLED TEENAGERS DSQUARED2
The Dsquared2 collection emerged from the neglected bedroom of an infantilized teenager, the backdrop for a fashion show.
Kicked out of bed by his mother’s voice, he languidly combines his sportswear with his girlfriend’s lacy camisole and isn’t too proud to wear a jumpsuit, now necessarily unbuttoned, that he outgrew in childhood. Pink and emblazoned with the words “It’s A Boy”, the jumpsuit deliberately turns all gender stereotypes on its head.
Canadian designer twins Dean and Dan Caten’s collection showcases the boldness of today’s youth who aren’t afraid to push boundaries, as the designers re-imagined their own teenage years as they would like to relive them, set in the late 70s and early 80s soundtrack: Grease, Michael Jackson.
“We were so stereotyped and we weren’t allowed. Now teenagers are very free,” Dan Caten said backstage.
They also won’t grow up. They wear fringed cowboy shirts or undershirts for girls with pretty baby bows on the neckline. Pants are double, jeans over khakis. Leather caps are worn over white panties.
The looks of the collaborators were relentlessly sexy, almost earning the XXX rating that the invitation to the show cheekily promised. Low-waisted jeans are worn with a bra and an oversized fur hat, as if an exuberant teenager is mocking her parents’ admonitions to cover her head. The final look was a barely-there beaded dress draped over a branded thong, tube socks as gloves.
“When we started, we started, we pushed the boundaries all the time. Now it’s kind of a moment, and we said, ‘The kids are free, the kids are pushing it now, so we said, ‘let’s go back to the fun and lightheartedness and just bring it,’” Dean Caten said.
The energy from the runway spilled over into the after party, full of food trucks and an open bar, which was supposed to last until the wee hours.
MILAN HIGHLIGHTS YOUNG BRANDS
Milan-based label Family First mixed a university aesthetic with men’s kilts in a tailored collaborative collection that bucked convention. The brand was founded in 2015 by creative director Giorgio Mallone with CEO Alessandro Zanchi.
Men showed off their muscular legs in shorts worn with a hood under plaid jackets, or more suggestively with a suit jacket accented with a pullover and accompanied by a beret. Men’s kilts were long and checkered, but also made of lighter fabric in uniform shades, sometimes layered over trousers. The looks were layered, relaxed and unfussy. Tartan blankets were fashioned into skirts and dresses for her.
Across town, the 1017 ALYX 9SM brand drew a crowd of street fashionistas to a standing-room-only show on an elevated runway. Now based in Milan, the brand was originally founded by Matthew Williams in New York.
The edgy collection offered hoodies and tuxedo jackets, spiky accents and fuzzy jackets that seemed to tell me to stay away and comfort me. The messages were tongue-in-cheek, with one t-shirt featuring Star on the front, continuing with Duma on the back, as the designer mocked the celebrity.
BILLIONAIRE CELEBRATES MATURE MEN
German designer Philipp Plein invited an intimate audience to the piano bar of the luxury hotel Principe di Savoia to present the latest collection of his brand Billionaire, intended for the most exclusive clientele.
Plein emphasizes the craftsmanship of each piece: the double breast pocket on the jacket, the silk trim on the coat, the softness of the Piacenza cashmere jacket, which is deliberately unlined to allow the wearer to see the details of its artistic craftsmanship
“One of these coats costs 150,000 euros,” said Plein, pulling out a garment made of buttery soft leather supplied by a company owned by Hermes.
Billionaire is the niche ultra-luxury brand in its group, which includes its Philipp Plein and Plein Sport brands. “People like to put in a corner. They say that Plein shines, Plein is loud, Plein is a maximalist. But here you can see what we can do.”
Plein believes that brands that show their collections on teenage models are only masking their true demographic. None of his models are younger than 45, which is his age by a few months.
“No one wants to grow old in fashion, but the truth is that growing old is beautiful and we celebrate it,” he said.