As the Cruise 2019 extravaganza continues its literal and sartorial journey, the fashion set last night arrived in the Alyscamps, a tumbling necropolis (UNESCO World Heritage Site) situated just outside the walls of Arles, on the Rhone River. We are here to witness Alessandro Michele’s fourth Cruise collection for the heritage brand at the Roman cemetery – the question on everybody’s lips? How will the greatness of Gucci continue?
The storms that have been plaguing the Cruise shows in the south of France this season have cleared, and we arrive in a balmy dusk lit by an avenue of thousands of candelabra.
There is always a certain buzz before a Gucci show – a whiff of ideology and non-conformity in the air, as we wait to see what sort of visual spectacle awaits. As a line of fire ignites the runway, and 114 models appear from a ghostly fog to a soundtrack of Claudio Monteverdi, it is clear the fantasy will continue.
There were, of course, the now-standard clashes of pattern and kaleidoscopic color in a dizzying collage of florals, metallics, stripes, and plaid, with a rock-and-roll underbelly à la Gucci. However, this time around, there was an altogether more ethereal mood, a treasure chest of rich textures and ornamentation steeped in historical reference. A marriage of late ’70s and early ’80s in cuts, we witnessed everything from an English tweed to floral padded jackets, layer upon layer of beautifully dyed chiffon, and gloriously shiny accessories.
As the finale stepped out to a soundtrack that ended in Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem for My Friend, there was a good five minutes of stunned silence from the crowd as they digested what can only be described as beauty in its rawest form.
As if things couldn’t get any more surreal, an important guest was waiting for us next door. Wearing a custom Gucci black mohair peak lapel suit with black flower embroideries and his trademark silver star crystal glasses, Sir Elton John performed classic hits such as “Rocket Man” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”, drawing the curtain on an evening of an almost overwhelming education of the senses.
As we leave, it is clear Alessandro Michele has a clear and very important message for us all, in that fashion, like art, should provoke and be charged with not only a physical but an emotional reaction. As always, he left us with something to digest.