Welcome to the Gucci Hospital, Dr Michele will see you now...
Milan Fashion Week is the most anticipated fashion event of the year because of the calibre of brands showcasing during this week. There is a particular onus on Gucci – as social media heavyweights and purveyors of Millennial trends – to keep its on-going spectacle alive. And, in true Alessandro Michele form (Gucci's creative director), he kept his AW18 catwalk as weird as ever.
Staged in the brand's Milan hub, the show space was transformed into a surgeon's operating theatre – complete with PVC flooring, whiter-than-white bright lights and eerie waiting-room-style chairs. Models carried frighteningly realistic replicas of their heads, while fawns and cyclopes joined the runway, and tiny magical creatures lay sleeping in the clutches of Michele's model army. The concept and space "reflects the work of a designer – the act of cutting, splicing and reconstructing materials and fabrics to create a new personality and identity with them", said the brand's Instagram account.
To achieve the awe-inspiring, freakishly stunning head replicas, Michele worked with Makinarium, a Rome-based factory of techno-artisans who produce bespoke special and visual effects. An essay written by Donna Haraway in 1984, entitled "A Cyborg Manifesto", served as the main source of inspiration for this grotesque display.
As with most of Michele's collections, I was left mesmerized by the plethora of complex patterns and overlays, appliques and embellishments. But is it all getting a bit Emperors New Clothes? The extravagant concoctions that make up each outfit are becoming less wearable and more theatrical: see-through ivory tulle zipped capes, for instance, fell whimsically over pleated dresses, while heavily embellished hijabs made for perfect canvases from which to dangle delicate jewels. Clothes hung loosely from the body (unlike that skin-tight sparkly body suit from the Gucci SS17 show), showing a continued move toward androgyny. But there was also ample reminder of the level and ability of the Italian brand through a selection of tailored pieces that defined a new kind of all-over sexiness.