How Gucci’s Alessandro Michele Reignited My Love for Fashion

Jessica Schiffer

As someone who’s been interested in fashion since she was a preteen, I’ve come to know what I like and don’t like aesthetically, as well as what to generally expect from the oldest brands. That’s not to say, of course, that I can predict what will come down the runway, but rather that I’m attuned to the vibes of the house. And, more often than not, those “vibes,” so to speak, stay the same. I don’t mind this—in fact, there’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting, and at its core, it fosters brand loyalty. However, in recent seasons, I’ve felt a bit bored with the same old, same old in my wardrobe and been searching for something on the runways to help shake things up.

Have there been shows that I liked and pieces I wanted to wear myself? Of course—plenty! But did anything make me think twice about my own wardrobe? Not really. Our current fascination with branding virtually everything in our lives, including ourselves, is reflected on the runways, after all. And while those brands, along with their teams and customers, deserve respect and admiration, I can’t help but wonder: Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

This made Gucci’s decision to hire a relative unknown, Alessandro Michele, all the more surprising. When he was brought on earlier this year to replace Frida Giannini, we only knew that he had formerly been the brand’s head of accessories. Despite the fashion world’s penchant for playing guessing games when a creative director position is up for grabs, Michele had not been on the list—his name simply didn’t have the recognition of a Philo or Ghesquière. But it quickly became clear that his name belonged in those ranks.

Michele’s designs were not only surprising for Gucci (a house that’s made heritage wear glamorous, even sexy) but also were unlike anything we’d been seeing on the runways at large. Michele had essentially taken the geeky dream of a Wes Anderson film and infused it with sophistication and, yes, a little bit of sex. But what made his designs even more significant was that they broke new ground without breaking down the codes of the house. It was still very much a Gucci show—horsebit loafers, the double-G label, and bamboo detailing were all there—but it was Gucci through a fresh lens, and one that made this girl rethink everything that she thought she knew about her own style. I went from being an arbiter of all-black simplicity to dreaming of floral-print dresses, sequin-sprinkled pussy-bow blouses, lacy tank tops, and velvet suits. I couldn’t explain why I wanted these things, but I was sure I did.

Predictable this was not. No, it was an instinctive gut reaction. It brought me back to being 13, trolling Style.com for the latest shows and deciding what I liked from the cleanest slate. There were no preconceptions to affect my taste—just exciting fashion, with its mysterious, inexplicable pull.

Scroll down to see my favorite looks from Alessandro Michele's first two collections for Gucci.

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