How Gucci’s Alessandro Michele Reignited My Love of Fashion

Jessica Schiffer

As someone who’s been interested in fashion since she was a pre-teen, I’ve come to know what I like and don’t like aesthetically, as well as what to generally expect from the oldest brands. That’s not to say, of course, that I can predict what will come down the runway, but, rather, that I’m attuned to the vibes of the house. And, more often than not, those “vibes,” so-to-speak, stay the same. I don’t mind this—in fact, there’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting and it’s essentially what fosters brand loyalty. However, in recent seasons, I’ve felt a bit bored with this reality and with never feeling blown away by what I saw.

Have there been shows that I liked, and pieces that I wanted to wear myself? Of course—plenty! But did anything make me do a double take, or think twice about my own wardrobe? No, not really. Our current fascination with branding virtually everything in our lives, including ourselves, is reflected on the runways, where most designers feel the need to colour within the lines they’ve already drawn for themselves. Frankly, it’s the safest bet for both their reputations and their overall profits.

This made Gucci’s decision to hire a relative-unknown, Alessandro Michele, all the more surprising. When he was brought on earlier this year to replace Frida Giannini, we only knew that he had formerly been the brand’s head of accessories. Despite the fashion world’s penchant for playing guessing games when a creative director position is up for grabs, Michele had not been on the list—his name simply didn’t have the recognition of a Philo or Ghesquière. And that fact, combined with his longtime association with the house, led me to assume that we wouldn’t be seeing anything novel when he debuted his first collection for fall 2015.

Of course, I was more than wrong. Michele’s designs were not only surprising for Gucci (a house that’s made heritage wear glamorous, and even sexy) they were unlike anything we’d been seeing on the runways at large. Michele had essentially taken the geeky dream of a Wes Anderson film and infused it with sophistication and, yes, a little bit of sex. But what made his designs even more significant was that they broke new ground without breaking down the codes of the house. It was still very much a Gucci show—horsebit loafers, the double G label, and bamboo detailing were all there—but it was Gucci through a fresh lens, and one that made this girl rethink everything that she thought she knew about her own style. I went from being an arbiter of all black simplicity to dreaming of floral-print dresses, sequin sprinkled pussy-bow blouses, lacy tank tops and velvet suits. I couldn’t explain why I wanted these things, but I was sure I did.

Predictable this was not. No, it was an instinctive, gut reaction. It brought me back to being thirteen, trolling Style.com for the latest shows and deciding what I liked from the cleanest slate. There were no preconceptions to affect my taste, just exciting fashion, with its mysterious, inexplicable pull.

Scroll down to see my favourite looks from Alessandro Michele's first two collections for Gucci.

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