Three times Alessandro Michele moved culture forward

by Olivia Miletta
Culture Fashion
  • Michele held to his manifesto of maximalism throughout his time at Gucci
  • He unapologetically and proudly presented gender fluidity & androgyny en masse
  • His ability to build cinematic universes has us hooked for his next chapter

This blogpost is dedicated to our *lord and savior* Alessandro Michele.

Since the announcement of Michele’s departure as Gucci’s creative director there’s been a lot of discourse about his legacy. Tributes honoring him have got me reminiscing about the impact Michele has had on not just fashion, but culture at large…

It’s undeniable the impact Alessandro Michele had at Gucci in totally transforming the brand.

In arguably one of the most insane fashion turnarounds ever – reminiscent of the Tom Ford era – Michelle literally reinvented Gucci with his eccentric, maximalist vision.

They rose to the top, dominating the fashion zeitgeist and would continue to set the tone in fashion and culture. In the world of fashion, time really could be split as B.M. & A.M…

(Before Michele and After Michele, to be clear).

ONE: A Manifesto of Maximalism

A single word to summarise Michele’s style? Maximal.

Characterised by the layering of pieces in an unexpected, almost erratic way, his work is akin to a psychedelic trip; filled with kaleidoscopic colour, texture, print and silhouettes. Michele has given us the definition of OTT. Think stockings under a printed skirt, under a button up shirt, under a quilted jacket, under a silk scarf, under two bags, under a scarf, and a hood. Coco Chanel may have once said “before leaving the house, look in the mirror and take something off”, but Alessandro Michele really said “put another five things on”.

…And it’s not just the absurdity of his genius layering. Michele took the classic, minimal loafer, and turned them into a high-fashion bedroom slipper: complete with fur trim and the House’s signature horsebit buckle. And who could forget Fall 2018, where models carried replicas of their own heads down the runway?

“I tried to put more of this kind of aesthetic. It’s pop but it’s also very sedated in a way, it’s kind of like a musician. You need more, more notes. More, more because otherwise the music stops. And I don’t want it to stop.”  – Alessandro Michele

TWO: Presenting Gender Fluidity and Androgyny

Michele set this tone from the outset for his first collection Fall 2015, sending both femme and masc presenting models down the runway at what was technically a ‘womenswear’ show. This was really controversial at the time, and a major disruption to the traditional fashion calendar structure, typically split between ‘menswear’ and ‘womenswear’ shows.

The show included a blending and reinvention of silhouettes away from the usual binaries – even down to the model casting. They were not characterised by their gender, but their androgynous look.

Aside from Fall 2015, Michele still played an instrumental role in carrying the expression of gender fluidity forward, walking in the footsteps and continuing a legacy started by the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier & Grace Jones. And it’s also stars of the now who share his vision of fluidity. His creative muse-like friendship with Harry Styles would become synonymous with presenting  gender fluidity en masse. Their looks for the 2019 Met Gala marked the first time a major house such as Gucci leaned into gender-fluid dressing on the world stage.

“Fashion should be genderless; how people perceive the idea of beauty can vary from one to another. The way you dress is really the way you feel, the way you live, what you read, your choices. That’s what I want to put into Gucci.” – Alessandro Michele

THREE: Building Cinematic Universes

Michele is known for his ability to build universes and construct campaigns with cinematic like richness and fantasy – layered with references and, of course, Guccified.

I remember the first introduction I had to Gucci cinema was their Pre-Fall 2017 campaign ‘Soul Scene’. It was the first time I’d seen a fashion film on that level of artistry, and it sent me spinning. I still remember the exact moment I first came across it, thinking, “what in the fuck did I just watch?”, and jaw heavily on the floor. The way Michele and Glen Luchford built this rich story was unlike anything else I’d seen before.

The whole sequence does so well to capture the essence of an early 70s block party – sprinkled with Gucci. From the anticipation to the party scenes, the attention to detail was what made it pop. The Super-8 style zoom pan shots, the choreography and set design all pointed so specifically to that era. Even the choice track, The Night by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – a group heavily influenced by the early R&B scene of that period – was so well placed. I could go on, but you should just go watch it if you’ve not already!

Some more cultural reset highlights: 

If there was one thing I’d love to see Michele do, although literally whatever he decides to do next will be amazing: it’s directing features. Afterall, he already has the soul of a director and storyteller… Imagine Gucci Pre-Fall 2019 as a full feature length.

More honourable mentions: 

Martin Parr for Gucci

Gucci Beauty Campaign 2019

Gucci x Dapper Dan

Gucci Pre-Fall 2018

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