It was like being sat inside a womb, well, if there’s such a thing as a smokey womb. This afternoon, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele decked out his show space in a sickly all-pink colour scheme, from the carpet to the candyfloss-coloured velveteen banquettes, to the walls which were clad in curtains made up of pink mirrored tiles linked together with metal rings, which also served as room dividers.
What usually happens when a show starts is the lights come up. The lights didn’t come up and instead a dry ice machine puffed into overdrive, meaning that every look that sauntered along his carpeted runway was enveloped in dense fog and therefore barely visible. One could just about make out the silhouette but you’d need night vision goggles to be able to say with utter conviction what some of these colours were, let alone the detail going on here, which was a pity because there seemed to be some lovely craftsmanship at work. What’s more, those kitsch curtains kept getting caught on silk gowns, one model yanked it free and continued to walk with it still attached to her hemline. Show goers around the corner who missed the hiccup probably thought it was part of the design. It could have been. Lots of it shone. I think. (The show notes didn’t shed much light either, to offer a snippet: “the narrative principle is non-linear; it is made of ruptures, digs, leaps, cross-references and unpredictable connections. An archipelagic and metamorphic approach in which the thought overflows undisciplined and doesn’t follow in the wake of tradition.” Who knows what any of that means).
But regardless, we all know Michele’s Gucci by now. And most importantly – probably – it sells. Last year, Gucci registered sales of 3.9 billion euros, up 11.5 per cent from the previous year as Kering’s cash-cow began its turnaround under Michele’s direction; CEO Marco Bizzarri forecasts the juggernaut to be a six-billion euro brand. Michele’s aesthetic is resonating with the Gucci customer and this was another collection packed with kooky desirables; from a mink coat with zebra intarsia to a Dynasty-style one-shouldered and ruffled cocktail dress with “modern” spelled out in gold sequins on the back of one sleeve, to a tiered tinsel coat, brocade backpacks, and something else – a coat? A dress? – embroidered with jellyfish. Lots of it felt a bit too costume, a bit too madcap dress-up – but it will now doubt cause a frisson with Gucci’s growing category of under 34s, which rose 50 per cent for the spring collection versus the same period last year. However, it was the tamer offering of silk pyjama sets, studded suede trouser suits, and boucle skirts here this afternoon that are likely to have broader appeal.