Alessandro Michele calls for reformulation of fashion season; and says Gucci will stage digital show in Milan in July, but not in September
One day after Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, revealed on Instagram that the brand would in future stage only two shows per year, the designer called publicly for a reformulation of the fashion calendar. He also indicated that Gucci will be present during the opening of the Milan digital season in July. But the designer closed off the possibility that the house would show in September, during the next official runway season in Milan – the Italian fashion capital.
Speaking from his studio in Rome, Michele addressed some 20 international editors via the Converse software in a teleconference (or “virtual gathering”) on Monday, May 25.
“We were all in danger during this period due to the happening of something totally unexpected. It was the most mysterious of times. I was in lockdown in Rome, in my flat. And I found the time I never had before to focus on my feelings; my work; my creativity; our common future; and the future of people I work with in the company. We found time to be on our terrace with many plants and flowers… it made me realize I want to de-structure the fashion show and its many important elements,” explained Michele in Italian.
He explained that his next collection will be called “Epilogue” and will be shown during Milan Digital Fashion Week on July 17 – in a digital format.
However, after a 15-minute speech with live English translation – during a subsequent question and answer session – when asked whether Gucci planned to show in September’s official calendar governed by the Camera della Moda, Italian fashion’s governing body, Michele demurred.
“I am not a deserter. I want to share with others my ideas… This autumn, we are hoping to construct a dialogue with the world. However, I don’t believe that making a collection every two months is a plausible way to work any more,” he explained, stressing that there was not really enough time to develop the collection.
“There should be a new system, and I don’t want to say they should be separately spring and fall… I want to be as free as possible. I would like that, after each show, all garments are immediately able to go to into stores and spend more time there,” he added, perched on a couch in his studio within a Renaissance villa just off the banks of the Tiber.
“I want to open a conversation, as each of us must design for a new time. Thus, I hope that this is the beginning of a discussion of a reformulation of the season, as well as a different way of doing things. We are in the the midst of reorganizing the system in which we work. I think we will have a regular calendar for September. I think and I hope that.”
Reacting to the news, Camera President Carlo Capasa praised Michele for supporting the fashion community.
“I think Alessandro’s spirit contributes immensely to our community. He has indicated he will do something in our first digital season in July, which is great. However, this a moment where nobody is sure exactly what will happen next. So, here at the Camera, our rule is to try to give and create the best opportunity for designers to express themselves,” argued Capasa.
Besides calling for new dates, the designer insisted that multiple types of collections – such as pre-fall, capsule or cruise – should have different names. Hence the new title – Epilogue.
“I would like to stipulate new names for these collections, that emanate from classical music. That opens a new window to new horizons,” expounded Michele, a designer who has scored the fastest growth in revenue at any major luxury brand in the past half-decade.
However, whatever may happen, he is clear that he wants to radically reduce the number of shows he stages annually.
“We will no longer do five shows – just two shows a year. Using the greatest talents to recount our ideas. We all need to be more elastic. I have done five shows, because I am hyper productive. But one day, doing that will wear me down. Having more time at home means my own ideas are far stronger,” stressed Michele, who added that during confinement, he had been reading about the collapse of civilization after the Roman empire by the arrival of barbarians, and the centuries-long, lengthy, subsequent restoration.
Looking ahead, he predicted multi-disciplinary shows will become the norm, involving elements of theatre, catwalk shows and digital technology.
“I really like shows. I am passionate about them. I want to implement them but also to reawaken them and reinvent them,” he concluded.
In his five years at Gucci, Michele has made a specialty of creating epic and artistic shows in such diverse locations as Westminster Abbey; an ancient Roman cemetery in Arles; or a Greek temple in Sicily.
When asked how he expects to entertain customers throughout the year after reducing the frequency of Gucci shows, the designer responded: “The fashion world is sort of like Woodstock. It is open to a huge audience, and followed by people who have often never entered our stores but follow us with great passion... I work for a group that allows great freedom to create new ideas.”
Ironically, Michele slightly stole the thunder on his voluble teleconference by posting a series of long diary entries on his Instagram account on Sunday evening, where he had already outlined his call for seasonless fashion.
In a series of poetic posts, Michele meditated on “the fragility of our creatural destiny,” and lamented that the fashion system “went too far.
“We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus, and buried Pan. So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots. So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging. We ravaged the sanctity of life, neglectful of our being a species. At the end of the day, we were out of breath.
“The greatest risk, for our tomorrow, is abdicating our responsibility for a true and necessary discontinuity. Our history is littered with crises that taught us nothing… I feel a need to renew a bond, purifying the essential by getting rid of the unnecessary.”
He finished by calling for a time that can bring forth a “new Epiphany… A new path, away from the deadlines that the industry consolidated and, above all, away from the excessive performativity that today has no real raison d’etre.”
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