It's hard to overstate how fraught the fashion world is right now. Two of the industry's most long-standing editors (ELLE's very own Lorraine Candy and Vogue's Alexandra Shulman) have announced their resignations. Fashion houses continue to rotate creative directors. And the fashion week calendars are in a state of flux as long-time fixtures choose to show in different cities, at different times of year, or simply not at all. We're less than three months into 2017 and yet it's already been filled with a disorienting amount of emails containing the subject line 'BREAKING NEWS.'
So the ticket to today's Gucci show seemed eerily prescient. 'What will we do with all this future?' is the question Alessandro Michele posed on the invite, which doubled as a special edition vinyl LP featuring handwritten script by the artist Coco Capitan on the cover. On side A of the album, Florence Welch reading William Blake's 'Songs Of Innocence And Experience' and on side B, 'A$AP Rocky reading 'A Love Letter From Frederic Wentworth to Anne Elliott' from Jane Austen's Persuasian.
And like the invitation suggested, the show unfolded like one 119-look-long commentary on the winds of change, and the role of Gucci within it.
Alessandro, if you've forgotten, is one of fashion's great new disruptors. Two years into his role as creative director of Gucci he's put the label back at the top of the food chain, revived its sales and shaken up the fashion industry.
But critics had also begun to ask, 'What next?' of the man who had spent five seasons establishing his unbeatable take on maximalism. How many tiger embellished coats and gold slippers can one make?
But with today's show, the first ever combined men's and women's collection for the brand, Michele made clear that the age of change is suiting him just fine. His show notes described the clothes as a 'transformative whirl that reassembles fragments, codes and stories that are projected onto a fresh horizon of sense.'
So what to do with all this future?
A lot actually. On an elaborate glass runway set built around a giant pyramid topped with a rooster weather vane, 120 runway looks walked down the runway. And while there weren't actually any transformative new trends here (maximalism continues to rule), this collection had more impact than previous seasons. Maybe it was the sheer enormity of its size or that he scaled back on the dense layering of colour and fabric and print.
Many of the looks seemed to reference Michele's first collection for the house with a sense of geeky eccentricity, while others built on the ritzy, rock star flamboyance of his most recent work. There were also softer, comparatively quieter silk dresses in vintage graphics and florals and updates on his popular logo tees, this time scribbled with Capitan's hand-drawn slogans like, 'Common Sense Is Not That Common.' The collection looked like a mix of his greatest hits (there have been a lot in a short period of time) with new styles of dresses, tees, shoes and bags mixed in.
Michele's show notes described it all as fashion 'alchemy,' a concoction of contradicting references, ideas and looks combined to create a series of individuals. The strategy makes sense: Gucci now has a wide fan base. In the front row alone, there was Tom Hiddleston, Alexa Chung, A$AP Rocky and Florence Welch. And the company has just announced a new diversity initiative in an effort to boost representation on its runways and in its offices.
This collection offered a piece for everyone whether it be the young shopper saving up for that first gateway purchase or high-profile fan Beyoncé. And throughout it all, impeccable handiwork. This was his slickest, most ambitious show yet. The future for Gucci? Looking pretty good.