At Gucci, things were a little different. After Frida Giannini left the brand in 2015 due to several years of mixed reviews, decrease in sales, and conflicting relations between her, her husband who also resigned from the position of CEO at Gucci and the Kering Company, a total makeover was needed. The new appointed creative director was a relatively unknown figure in the fashion industry by the name of Alessandro Michele. Despite his presumed anonymity, Michele had been working at Gucci since 2002. While Slimane’s approach on rebranding Saint Laurent resembled that of an architect, strategically restoring the brand, Michele’s approach resembles that of a cartographer. As Tim Blanks described him in an article, he is “a cartographer, mapping emotion”, his collections – “a moving topography of desire”.
Michele works in Rome, at the Gucci’s headquarters in the Palazzo Alberini in a room “layered with a patchwork of antique Persian and Oushak rugs”, as it is described in an interview for Vogue. His work environment is his retreat from the everyday reality. In today’s world we sometimes seek to escape the insecurities, the pollution, the noise, the political and economic worries, and what we escape into is often sometimes that we connect with luxury.
What he did first was to reflect on the idea of femininity and beauty in today’s world. If Tom Ford’s success at Gucci in the 90’s was due to his understanding of women’s desire to be empowered by the freedom to reveal their sexuality, Michele’s success has to do with the creation of a new Gucci woman. Light make-up, uncombed hair, wearing clothes that seem to have been taken out of her grandparent’s closet, and embellished with brooches and patches, and scarves found in the local flee market, the new Gucci woman has a Lolita mixed with Simone de Beauvoir attitude. Her sexuality is subversive, wrapped up in a romantic veil. She is an underground bourgeois, trying to find connections between semiotic theories and snapchat. What Michele succeeded in such a short time is to infuse coolness and desirability into a brand whose identity is so widely forged that it’s only remaining power was to mimic the illusion of luxury. Michele’s “remapping” also regarded the brand’s logo, its accessory line, the menswear universe, and also the stores display. After only a few seasons since Alessandro Michele has been appointed creative director at Gucci, the brand’s sales started to improve consistently, proving that his eclectic and gender bending aesthetic resonates with today’s luxury consumers.
TO BE CONTINUED