It may sound controversial, but until I saw Alessandro Michele’s AW17 collection for Gucci, I was an utter skeptic. In 2015, the award-winning Italian designer redefined the Gucci woman as a slightly eccentric fashion magpie, with a penchant for geek chic. I wasn’t convinced. There was too much caricature in his first couple of collections for my taste; the fashion narrative Michele was spinning seemed more important than the reality of wearing the threads (although like everyone else, I was completely won over by those divine Kangaroo fur-lined loafers!).
But two years on, Michele has struck the perfect balance between the art of fashion and the functionality of clothes. The collection was, like those before, a visual deep-dive – beautifully detailed embroidery, elaborate Chinoiserie prints, ornate sequins and dazzling jewels adorned everything from shoes to collars to diaphanous gowns and utilitarian outerwear. The influences spanned decades and hemispheres, from 1980s New York to 1920s Hong Kong via San Francisco in the 1970s.
There was a sophistication (and at times the slightest hint of understatement) about many of the pieces in this collection, which removed any hint of the kind of caricature I’d disliked before. AW17’s Gucci woman is one I’d like to be, the decadent separates pieces I can see clearly translating into my wardrobe. And that’s what makes a successful collection in my mind. If you get a chance, watch a replay of the show, because seeing the way the models walk in the clothes, looking at how the pieces move and absorb or reflect the light is a far better explanation of this collection than I can ever provide. In the meantime, here are some images of my favourite looks from the show.