“Wes Anderson” was the name that kept recurring in my Instagram feed after this afternoon’s Gucci show. Perhaps, post-Oscars, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s wins were still on everyone’s minds. But it’s true that new designer Alessandro Michele, in his first women’s collection for the brand, upended the more sexed-up approaches of his predecessors Frida Giannini and Tom Ford with a bespectacled heroine who, one would wager, had a working knowledge of the Dewey Decimal system. You might even call her quirky — a manic-pixie mash-up of Margot Tenenbaum; Moonrise Kingdom’s Suzy, with Mod pussy-bow frocks and a fondness for berets. Maybe a dash of Tilda Swinton’s imperious Madame D. Out of the gate, Michele already has a strong sense of his “girl,” and she marks a departure from what we’ve seen before. When you’re tasked with taking over at a 94-year-old house, that’s half the battle.
To be sure, there were touches of delicious impropriety — transparent tops were paired counterintuitively, for example, with long skirts and embroidered collars that resembled baby’s breath. The collection had a youthfulness to it, thanks to all those ruffles and bows, but with a strong undercurrent of vintage, as though Michele had gotten the chance to run riot in the archives and went straight for the ‘60s and ‘70s sections. In fact, the collection reminded me of the way young Milanese women actually dress now — in particular, the chic specimens on J.J. Martin’s excellent new vintage-meets-editorial-site La Double J, who mix Nonna’s fur coat with mom’s horsebit loafers and a brand-new dress bought on impulse just this afternoon. Michele’s designs felt similarly lived-in, a nonchalant mash-up of eras rather than a narrow ode to just one.
Pieces like an interlocking-G belt, those aforementioned horsebit loafers, or a pink-and-red chevron fur reflected Gucci classics without overdoing it on house codes. Lurex threads and pussy-bow blouses — which Michele also showed, to some controversy, for men last month — evoked the ‘70s, but that of a Bertolucci or Antonioni movie, not a Giannini-style jet-setter. And, because it’s not a collection these days without some kind of meme-worthy detail, there were enough out-of-left-field elements — like those furry shoes! — to get everyone talking. What more can you ask for from a debut?