In what many see as the main event of Milan Fashion Week and perhaps even all of Fashion Month, Gucci had its attendees literally counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until its Fall/Winter presentation. The invitation, which came in the form of an orange retro timer wrapped in a medical-waste (Ziploc) bag, featured a sticker that read, “Parental Advisory, Explicit Content,” a warning that did not even come close to getting guests ready for what they would soon see.
Taking place on Thursday evening in Gucci’s Milan hub, a former aircraft factory that was recently made into the brand’s headquarters, the show saw a total transformation of the space into an open surgery set, complete with LED lamps, hospital waiting room chairs, PVC floors, and an operating table. Needless to say, anyone with a sensitive stomach was not on the show’s invite list. In an Instagram post, Gucci explained that the show’s “concept reflects the work of a designer—the act of cutting, splicing, and reconstructing materials and fabrics to create a new personality and identity with them.”
The main source of inspiration for designer Alessandro Michele and his team was Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” a 1984 essay that was apparently hefty enough to trigger the collection’s ninety looks. The manifesto describes a cyborg as the distinction between “human and animal” and “human and machine,” a characterization that Michele met with each and every look that graced the runway.
Some models strutted through the operating room set with eerily realistic replicas of their own heads in tow, while others cradled reptiles like a snake or chameleon, one even nestling a baby dragon, an indication that if nothing else, Michele’s maximalist tendencies do not appear to be slowing any time soon.
In order to keep all eyes on the Fall/Winter looks and the truly unique special effects, Gucci’s Thursday show saw relatively simple beauty. Dewy skin, lip balm, and slight natural eyelid shading was found on the faces of all of the models, but some had a more notable feature: an additional eyeball. One model walked the runway with a drawn-on third eye in the center of her forehead—which, if you’re wondering, was mascara and eyeliner free—and others saw an additional eye glued onto the center of their hands using a kind of prosthetic makeup.
Michele maintained his reputation as a lover of all things bright and colorful, putting forth a collection that featured looks in shiny greens, metallic golds, and sequined purples. The ninety looks were all seemingly traditional silhouettes, but fashion-favorite Alessandro offered his modern take with festive prints, emblazoned logos, brand paraphernalia, and jewels a-plenty. Some of the evening’s stylings appeared to meet an 80’s theme or even a Game of Thrones type vibe, but others seemed to be completely eccentric pairings and compilations of otherwise stand-alone pieces, a trend that perfectly suited the show’s raison d’être of mixing and mashing in order to create a new whole.
While the countless editors, fashion bloggers, and celebrities in attendance seemed to love Gucci’s latest show, the rest of the fashion world remained on the fence. Several industry members were extremely put off by Thursday’s theatrics, with one Twitter user joking, “I realize that some top models are head hunted for shows, but this is ridiculous!”
Whether Michele’s intention of misshapen creations’ taking center stage comes to fruition or not, the designer’s loyal millennial following and trend-setting ability will surely remain intact.
Written by Gabby Shacknai
Visuals by Olga Sorokina
Photos by Gerson Lirio, vogue.com