Alessandro Michele’s Most Radical Moments at Gucci

Known for infusing glitz, glam, subversion, and expression back into Gucci, the prolific creative director has breathed new life into the Italian label, and into the fashion industry as a whole.
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Since taking the reins as creative director of Kering-owned Gucci in 2015, Alessandro Michele has reinvented the heritage Italian label. The designer is responsible for skyrocketing Gucci’s revenue exponentially and implementing the maximalist, quirky, and glamorous aesthetic now considered to be quintessentially Gucci. Transporting us to his magical, neo-Romantic universe through design, Michele has been able to create a fully-crafted world placing sustainability and inclusiveness at the forefront of the brand’s ethos. Celebrating Michele’s jaw-dropping imagination, and his birthday today, L’OFFICIEL revisit's the renegade’s most radical moments at Gucci.

New Beginnings

A week before Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2015 men’s collection took the runway at Milan Fashion Week, then-creative director Frida Gainnini left the label. Michele stepped into the role swiftly and seamlessly, introducing a new era of the Italian label. The first look of the collection, a whimsical pussy bow blouse paired with black trousers and a Gucci belt, instantly established the whimsical androgyny now synonymous with Michele's tenure.


A Gucci Hallucination

Michele has infused many Renaissance-inspired elements into his designs and the overall visual identity of the luxury label. Combining fine art and high fashion, Gucci's Spring/Summer 2018 campaign presented interpretations of classic paintings with the subjects dressed in the latest Gucci collection. Dubbed Utopian Fantasy, Michele tapped Ignasi Monreal to create the campaign's hallucination-like artwork that merges the physical and the imagined.

Off With Their Heads

By far the hottest accessory of the Fall/Winter 2018 season, Gucci’s severed heads stole the spotlight. Taking six months to make, select models had the privilege of carrying life-sized identical human head replicas down the runway for the fantastical cyborg-themed show that also included everything from horns, baby dragons, iguanas, and most poetically, third eyes. To make the fantasy a reality, Michele collaborated with Italian special effects studio Makinarium to make exact silicone molds of the models’ heads. Then on the first Monday in May, friend of Michele and Gucci brand ambassador Jared Leto worked a head(s) to toe Gucci look for the 2019 Camp-themed Met Gala. Wearing a bright red floor-length gown and rhinestone encrusted body jewelry, the look was completed by a brunette look-a-like cranium under his arm.

Sustainability Efforts

Michele has made sustainability a priority for the Kering-owned luxury label since his appointment. The designer began by eliminating the use of fur in 2017 as a means of reducing Gucci’s impact on both animals and the environment. In the fall of 2019, the brand announced that by its Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in Milan, its events (from the construction to the invitations) would be carbon neutral, drastically reducing the brand's footprint. Just this summer, the Italian label launched its first eco-friendly collection, Off The Grid using organic, recycled, and bio-based materials, along with a virtual campaign starring Jane Fonda, Lil Nas X, and more.

Michele's Theater

Always one to subvert the expected, Michele turned tradition inside out for Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2020 runway presentation. Providing an intimate behind-the-scenes look, hair and makeup artists were revealed preparing the models for spectators. When their looks were complete, models approached the transparent glass wall to be rotated on Gucci’s fashion carousel.

Rewiring The Fashion Calendar

In May 2020, after months of lockdown due to the novel coronavirus, Michele announced a new, innovative path for Gucci, stirred by the forced change of pace. With sustainability in mind, the creative director announced a decrease in runway showings for the Italian label, going from five presentations a year to two seasonless ones, and putting an end to separate collections for men and women. Breaking away from the traditional runway layout, Michele’s proposal both reduces waste and breathes new life into a fashion system running on fumes.

Ouverture of Something That Never Ended

Breaking from the traditional mold once again, in Gucci’s latest subversive endeavor Ouverture of Something that Never Ended, Michele’s new collection for the Italian house is displayed by way of a seven-episode miniseries co-directed by Michele and acclaimed American filmmaker Gus Van Sant. The cinematic renderings are disseminated throughout the week as the digital GucciFest film festival. Featuring Italian star Silvia Calderoni and the usual suspects from Harry Styles to Billie Eilish and Florence Welch, the episodes successfully capture the overall Gucci ethos and aesthetic from bohemian interiors and eclectically curated ensembles.

While promoting its minifilms on the GucciFest landing page, the label has also included 15 up-and-coming designers in its digital content festival. Those included either place an emphasis on sustainability or gender-neutrality–two values of which Michele has placed in high regard since his creative director appointment at the fashion house. The emerging independent designers endorsed on Gucci's small screen include Collina Strada, Priya Ahluwalia, Bianca Saunders, and Gareth Wrighton.

Breaking Gender Confines

While Michele’s design concept has always erred on the side of flamboyance, the confines of gender have never appealed to the designer personally or through his work. Having dressed Jared Leto in a gown and Harry Styles in pearls and pumps for the 2019 Met Gala, Michele encourages androgyny. While the gender binary doesn't seem to exist in Michele's world, Styles' recent Vogue cover sparked a surprising amount of controversy as he became the first man to cover the publication solo, clad in a baby blue Gucci gown and tuxedo jacket. 



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