Gucci’s Alessandro Michele welcomed a pack of international press to Florence—the Italian capital of the rinascimento. And so, after checking into their respective grand hotels dotting the Arno River, editors hustled over to the Uffizi Gallery for a private tour of the work of Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Michelangelo (among others) to begin their cultural immersion, or, as Michele would later refer to it: a journey to “Guccification.”
After all, Gucci, under Michele’s lead, has transformed into a smorgasbord of flower print suits, rich embroideries, maxi dresses, and sparkling accessories that twinkle from head-to-toe. Since his appointment in 2015, following Frida Giannini, his award-winning reinvention of the Florentine House has been a creative and commercial success.
All good feasts, however, are best enjoyed when there is a moment of respite to cleanse the palate. Ahead of a segondo piatto indulgence, Italians are known to munch on anise as a digestive. And so, before exiting the renaissance art-filled Uffizi, guests filed through a secret corridor lined with almost a kilometer of austere portraits (where the chosen outfit was most commonly black). This “Vasari Corridor” (1565) travels across the Arno and above the Ponte Vecchio to reach the Boboli Gardens allowing for a quick and discreet entrance to the Pitti Palace. Following the footsteps of the Florentine elite, we walked quickly and silently as thousands of eyes watched, as they have for hundreds of years.
Vogue Brazil Fashion Director (left) with Daniela Falcão, Managing Director of Ediçōes Globo Condé Nast
Once inside the palace, up a monumental staircase, and out in the open air on a terrace that provides stunning views of Florence’s terracotta rooftops, the colors of Michele’s visual magic materialized. The show had not even begun and yet over a hundred guests were dressed in something or other from the storied House – whether slippers, bags, sunglasses, or two-piece suits—a nod to the success of the brand. A DJ spun transcendental music and guests mingled like in a scene from an Almodóvar art house movie.
Later, settled on stool chairs inside one of the seven baroque-styled rooms belonging to Pitti’s Palatina gallery (for which Gucci paid US $213,344 to use as a backdrop for its show) guests witnessed a rainbow stream of 115 male and female models (and a few artists and writers) wind through the rooms in a typically peculiar menagerie of separates, suits, and dresses. Highlights included a chocolate-colored cape with fur lining; a fuchsia matelassé double-breasted coat jacket; a sumptuous black velvet cold-shoulder dress with sequined snake writhing up the front; and a two-tone perfecto with gold fringe; not forgetting the leopard-spot turbans, golden wreaths, tiaras, and glitter sunglasses.
Gucci Resort 2018. Inside the Pitti Palace’s Palatina Gallery.
One couldn’t help but contemplate the joyous frivolity involved in dressing in the Gucci Resort 2018 collection. Pair flower-print pants with a shocking pink pullover featuring a “Guccy” teddybear like Ludwig. Don a floor-grazing blue gown with two giant bows fastening the bust like Ellia. Slip into a lilac-colored shift dress, belt it to show a lithe silhouette, and layer with a mumsy cardigan and massive flower broach (à la Carrie Bradshaw), and swing a pencil-case clutch from your hand like Marleth. These are clothes for the maximalist whose idea of a put-together-outfit is a cacophony of mix and match fabrics, colors, prints, embroideries, and silhouettes. Notably, a few of this season sleeves reached proportions befitting Lady Diana’s early ‘80s wedding dress.
Backstage, Michele, donning a NYC baseball cap with his nickname “Lallo” embroidered on the side, spoke generously with press describing that a woman who dresses in an eccentric fashion does so because she simply has “more to say.” He also elaborated on his feelings for Florence, calling it the “Napa Valley” of its time. (A slip of the tongue, he meant Silicone Valley.)
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele speaks with Vogue Editors backstage after the show.
Actresses Dakota Johnson, fresh from shooting Suspiria (read Vogue Arabia’s interview with director Luca Guadagnino here) was quick to congratulate the designer as was Kirsten Dunst, who came from the Cannes Film Festival where her soon-to-be released film The Beguiled was met with critical acclaim. The thrilled CEO of the Kering Group (to which Gucci belongs), François-Henri Pinault, and wife, actress Salma Hayek, chatted excitedly with guests. Meanwhile, Sir Elton John, in a jacket embellished with a sequin, multicolored lizard, and Jared Leto, unrecognizable under a mop of brown hair and long beard (and wearing a pink plush velvet robe), had already slipped out, along with Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
The Beguilded actress Kirsten Dunst at Gucci Resort 2018
The final stop for this one night in Florence was an outdoor garden party, where, in between dishes of mozzarella and ravioli, guests enjoyed a performance by American rock singer Beth Ditto. Dressed in a custom-made, emerald-green Gucci dress, accessorized with a matching sequin turban and glitter eyelids, Ditto was the epitome of the Gucci girl: confident, free-spirited, rock n’ roll, and loaded with talent. The guests that encircled her stage surrounded by flowers and trees couldn’t take their eyes off her.
Beth Ditto performs at the Gucci Resort 2018 after party.