“May the miracle of skilful hands and holding breaths come out of the shadows,” decreed Alessandro Michele. And so it was. For autumn, the backstage became the spectacle. Beneath a giant illuminated pendulum, Michele elevated his Gucci team to centre stage, giving the audience a through-the-keyhole perspective on the seasonal process by which a fashion house encourages “beauty to come out of its shell”. Here’s five things to know about Gucci’s fall/winter 2020 show.
Alessandro Michele laid a WhatsApp trail
As brands begin the slow transition from hard copy invitations to email QR codes – in the interests of sustainability, and, let’s face it, efficiency – they’re seeking ever more innovative ways to delight guests. Gucci hit the jackpot this week via WhatsApp, with a voice note from Michele sent to guests inviting them to the Gucci Hub. The profile picture attached to the account hinted at what was to come: Michele’s hand, complete with chipped lime-green nail polish, was shown next to a tiny china doll with a detachable head. Antique pill box? Holy water vial? A quick browse on Gucci’s Instagram feed revealed that dollhouses – plus “mysterious scenes featuring porcelain dolls”, as one creepy video was captioned – would be a major theme, following on from Michele’s menswear show in January, where he explored the trappings of childhood. Another post showed a toy wind-up music box in the shape of a Venetian carousel, with a tinkly soundtrack, wryly captioned: “A tribute to the fashion circuit.”
The entrance was through the back door
Upon arrival at the Gucci hub, guests walked through giant black curtains and emerged into – the backstage area? There was the odd look of panic exchanged between members of press, concerned they’d come in via the wrong door, but as Michele – resplendent in a plaid shirt, cords and floral patterned loafers – milled around adjusting crystals in the models’ hair, everyone relaxed into the backstage charade. And it was a charade. Because the major difference between this backstage set-up and the regular hair and make-up stations behind show spaces? Gucci’s was almost preternaturally calm.
Fellini inspired the through-the-keyhole approach
The exuberant filmic extravaganzas of Fellini have been a constant reference for Michele, but this season his influence was writ large thanks to a voiceover recording from the Italian director, which intoned over the opening of the show. “A movie camera, some friends around willing to help, a crew, an extraordinary crew. A circus crew, really. A crew made of people that put up a show as they set up the circus,” he said. And the circus? You’ll have seen this all on Instagram by now, but to recap: as the lights went down, a pink curtain went up, revealing a series of hanging rails with the looks for the show carefully hung up, shoes and accessories laid out, behind a circular glass wall. The models filed in from the sides in their robes and slippers, and their hair and make-up teams and dressers – all legitimate Gucci employees wearing grey jumpsuits embroidered with “façonnières de rêves”, or “creators of dreams”, as well as Paul Hanlon’s hair team and Thomas de Kluyver’s make-up team – followed. The “merry-go-round” began rotating, and the “getting ready” backstage hubbub unfolded in real time. Once the models were dressed, they stationed themselves in front of the glass wall, staring out at guests. When they filed out, their places were taken by Gucci employees. Michele could be seen milling around happily in the centre, before eventually taking his bow.
The Jackie is well and truly back
How would Gucci top the success of the 1955 Horsebit saddle bag that’s on the arm of every discerning editor and influencer at the shows? Bring back the Jackie, of course. The short-handled bag was made famous by Jackie Onassis, after whom Gucci eventually named the bag in the ’60s. Michele has toyed with it before, during the menswear show earlier this year, but he went big here: it decorated the arms of many of the models in this autumn show, in cherry red, bubblegum blue and glossy black.
Did you spot Daisy Duck?
Among the familiarly brilliant Gucci cocktails – grunge Nirvana denim meets glam ’80s ice skater top – was an unexpected Disney nod. With Mickey having had his moment in the spotlight for Chinese New Year, it was the turn of Daisy Duck to make her way onto jewelry pieces. Other things to note? Chunky crucifixes hung around necks on thick chains and dangled from ears; long socks went with everything; and fabulous collars abounded. If only “business as usual” looked this fantastic at every other house.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk