gUltimate fluidity isn’t just Harry Styles in a feather boa. It can also be a woman dressed in an elegantly oversized double-breasted pantsuit, like the model who opened Gucci’s first Milan Fashion Week show in two years.
“Seven years ago I designed a men’s collection, and everyone told me I invented gender fluidity,” designer Alessandro Michele shrugged backstage. “I was like, my definition of masculinity is broad, okay?” (Funny, now, to recall the furor caused by a man in a pussy-bow blouse as recently as 2015.)
Michele knows full well that he didn’t, in fact, invent gender fluidity. “I’m between two sexes,” he said on Friday. “I was a special kid. That’s who I am and I express my own experience. Gender fluidity has become a marketing slogan, but I don’t want that.
This collection celebrated the quieter beauty of women in menswear, rather the rule-breaking energy of men in dresses. Most of the 84 models, regardless of gender, wore pantsuits.
In other words: Gucci, best known recently for putting men in women’s clothes, dressed women in men’s clothes in a collection based on menswear shown during women’s fashion week on models of all genres. Surprising an audience with a gender-fluid look that disrupts tradition is as on-brand for modern Gucci as models in hip-cut cocaine white dresses striding down a mirrored runway were in a previous era of glory days, under Tom Ford. .
Gucci – the world’s second most powerful fashion brand after Balenciaga, according to a recent Lyst report of sales, social media and search data – doesn’t care too much about keeping the traditions of what men and women carry.
“I really like men’s suits,” Michele said. “As a kid, I remember always feeling really impressed with them. Not just on the men – I grew up in the 1980s with working women, and they wore them too. Women in his design team love menswear, “They’ll say, I love this jacket because the line is so neat, it’s like a man’s.”
There was a clarity and simplicity to this show that allowed Michele’s charm and sincerity – which in some seasons risked disappearing under all the glittering turbans and big pearl buttons – to shine through. The designer said of the return to physical shows in Italy: “It’s nice to be home. It was so great to work with music, light and space again. Although spending so much time with many other people, I find it very tiring”.
The show was also a revelation for a collaboration with Adidas. Corduroy double-breasted suits with a Gucci-tailored trefoil logo on the chest pocket, tailored Gazelle sneakers and triple stripes were reminiscent of the off-the-wall elegance of Adidas tracksuits in Wes Anderson’s cult 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums. Michele remarked that “fashion left the atelier” and credited Adidas with “bringing elegance into sportswear”, although he struggled to point out that Gucci’s story with its iconic red-green-red stripe has a heritage traced back to the Palio horse race in Siena, which dates back to the 13th century.