Gucci on Friday debuted its first menswear collection without its former creative director, Alessandro Michele. While simultaneously opening Milan Men’s Fashion Week, it was also Gucci’s first standalone show after years of presenting in a co-ed format. It was certainly a far cry from its September Twinsville presentation.
As the sound of a bass guitar and vocal filled the air, models began walking out in a moment that both literally and figuratively stripped the house from its recent past, breaking with the ornamentation and poetic styling that have become synonymous with Michele’s aesthetic. The multi-sensory, colourful and genderless expressions were gone, making way for a languid, if more sober, silhouette.
A new simplicity
This resulted in a simplicity that was new for Gucci, even if it is a direction other luxury houses have been adopting since the return of catwalk presentations after the pandemic. As Kering’s most lucrative brand, any transition between appointing creative directors and setting new strategies will need to be micro managed to not lose any customers or sales momentum in the interim.
Billowing trousers, teamed with oversized jackets and floor-length coats brought a sporty vibe to Gucci’s fall men’s offer. In terms of styling, it steered clear of anything too slick, even when compared to the house's former designers Tom Ford and Frida Giannini eras. With the beanie ubiquitous to most looks, it was heavy on the eighties, with layered leg warmers and pixie boots a recurring trend. Accessories were kept to a minimum, at least on the hardware so favoured by Michele, but bags in yellow and pink brought colour, and a lurex top and trousers were a nod to his inclusivity and vintage-inspired creations.
Sportswear was big, with aerobic stripes and ski-themed separates that felt, well, theme-y, making apparent the urgency to appeal to younger consumers. What it lacked was a focus on luxury, or of any craftsmanship reflecting Gucci’s rich past.
Lacking a luxury focus
Fashion houses often wipe the slate clean when they announce new creative appointments, and so expectations at Gucci were not dissimilar. While Mr Michele’s exit came as a surprise to many, and despite any accrued brand ennui in recent seasons, there was a collective acknowledgment toward him for revolutionising genderless dressing and ushering in brand inclusivity. His strength, in the early days at least, was that for every pussy-bow blouse sold to a man, thousands of Double G logo belts and accessories flew off the shelves. This propelled the house to strive for the 10 billion euro mark back in 2018.
No doubt this season was a challenge for the Kering-operated house, having to pivot to a new era, one that bridges the past and lays the foundation for whoever it appoints as its next creative leader.