How does that old United States post office motto go? "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." That is how most of the fashion set felt as they traipsed through puddles while battling rain and wind to get to the Gucci show. But nothing was going to keep them from one of this week's most hotly anticipated collections.
At the start of his show designer Alessandro Michele gave an auditory nod to Mother Nature, heralding his spring/summer 2016 collection with his own thunderstorm and clap of lighting on the soundtrack. But no amount of ill weather was going to derail Michele from his chosen sartorial path of giving the world a treasure trove of heartfelt designs that read on the runway like vintage finds and fabrics reworked to create a modern femininity.
The show got its starting point in a faux French map called "Carte de Tendre" that appeared at the start of a novel by Madeleine de Scudéry in 1654. A map designed to indicate the mountains and valleys of a fictional place called Tendre, it was supposed to indicate the route to find love (check out Gucci’s Instagram feed for an up-close look at the map). How fitting this image, and what it represents, is in terms of Michele's romantic world view.
His is a universe filled with poets, first loves and idyllic notions. It's a magically seductive place where men sport suits crafted from bright floral silk jacquards; women wear dresses embroidered with multi colored blooms, a 16th century Roman print or chinoiserie silks; their fingers festooned with knuckle duster rings; their shoes adorned with three dimensional hand-painted snakes slithering up the heels; their faces framed by big square glasses covered in shimmering crystals.
Instead of introducing a whole new clothing cosmos every six months, Michele has decide to develop and delve deeper into his whimsical world each season, a choice that feels modern and precious at the same time. So the fur slide-on slippers from his first womenswear show reappeared on the catwalk, as did the vibrant lace dresses and overall slightly shrunken silhouettes.
Into that mix Michele added his interpretation of the current ruffle trend in the form of a trompe-l'œil design on cuffs and collars of dresses. He added a larger range of pleated skirts in playful motifs of pineapples and parrots, fantastical maps or high octane blooms – count on them being snapped up next season, while a retro brown fur coat embellished with climbing green vines was all about the allure of granny chic.
This show also clearly underlined the fact that Michele spend a fair share of his first 12 years at Gucci in the accessories department, given the copious amount of covetable handbags, each one looking as if the owner had personalized it themselves — which is hugely appealing and will get the tills ringing around the world for the Italian house. Meanwhile, aspirational items like the oversized glasses, fingerless gloves and chunky rings will inspire a generation of knock-offs.
This show started with a map and thanks to it, Michele found an enchanting path to another successful show.