Forward March
Prestige Hong Kong|January 2018

Alessandro Michele has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fashion fame. alice franklin gets to grips with his new Gucci.

FEW WOULD HAVE predicted the cosmic success that Florentine maison Gucci has enjoyed in the three short years since Alessandro Michele was handed the reigns to lead the waning house into a new future. Here was a man largely unknown outside of the brand he’d called home for more than a decade, plucked from his role as associate designer to then-Creative Director Frida Giannini and handed the top title, before being given two options: send out his predecessor’s autumn/winter 2015 menswear collection to face the world’s assembled fashion press; or scrap the lot and have only five days to create his own. Michele, it seems, is a fan of taking risks, choosing the latter and sending 36 looks down the runway only a handful of days later, on a folksy army of longhaired boys that couldn’t have been less Giannini Gucci if they tried.

Since that moment, at the beginning of 2015, Michele has made a habit of doing things his way. On the catwalks, gone are the hypermasculine men and super-glamorous women that typified Giannini’s ultra-luxe aesthetic; in their place, that “ugly beauty” that so many girls want and so many guys puzzle over. In stores, racks of animal-embroidered knitwear, brazenly printed silks and bedazzled woollens have replaced the altogether cleaner lines of Gucci days past. And this has been no quiet assuage.

From day dot of Michele’s governance at the Italian firm there’s been a growing thunder of brash and brilliant optimism, one that has been fully supported by the man who offered the native Roman the commanding chair, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri. Bizzarri has been vocal in his opinion of Michele’s talents, branding his contemporary vision for the house as vital to counteract a challenging market.

The rest of the industry seems quick to agree. “I was very excited about Alessandro Michele’s taking over the helm at Gucci,” Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matches.com, told us. “He has transformed the historic house into one of fashion’s most talked-about brands.”

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