It’s not easy reviewing a label like Gucci given how Creative Director Alessandro Michele manages to merge each season stylistically into a cohesive whole. It’s great for building brand identity, more challenging for fashion editors seeing his work as part of the industry at large. Fortunately Michele has, in just three seasons, become a reference for an industry now embracing prints, embellishments and a kaleidoscopic palette that are all hallmarks of Gucci today. Gucci-ism has become the trend of the season. Given his short tenure as its creative lead, Michele has definitely created an identity that’s immediately recognisable and desirable.

The Fall/Winter 2017 collection was the first combined men’s and women’s outing for the brand. It was a natural progression for the label, given Gucci’s embrace of gender mixing throughout 2016 to present a gender-fluid collection in Milan.

The expansive 119 looks were shown on a set that included a giant mirrored pyramid and futuristic portals from which ethereal creatures emerged briskly under lights that changed colours throughout the show, and made it quite hard to comprehend initially. The collection, titled The Alchemist’s Garden, alluded to a mad science lab of sorts where different periods, styles and cultures were spliced up and recontextualised.

This translated to pieces like a hybrid tailcoated jumpsuit in fiery red that pushed the idea of formal dress for men. We could easily see style savant Jared Leto (who was at the show as a close friend of Michele’s) pulling off the look on the red carpet. A tuxedo cut in a floral linen came with bell-bottomed trousers and a detachable velvet lapel sprinkled with 3-dimensional blooms. Designed to be broken up and worn in multiple ways, it takes an almost modular approach to fashion.

Animal motifs and florals flooded the runway – on onesies bearing a fox print, to cute ‘I-want-it-now’ bat intarsia sweaters, to a walking stick bearing a monkey’s head engraving. The fabrication was undeniably luxurious. Richly patterned silk jacquards mingled with heavily embellished flannels while precious printed linens were trimmed in velvet and crystals. There wasn’t a surface that couldn’t be decorated or treated. It gave the clothes a sense of time.

Among all the stylistic quirks, there were plenty of ‘real’ clothes. A handsome oversized camel coat (one of the few looks that didn’t bear any embellishment) was a no-brainer as were the artfully distressed denim jeans that upon closer inspection, featured slightly curved legs that creased at the knee when worn.

These were instances where the subtlest gestures made the biggest impressions. A personal favourite were the extended shirts that came in various fabrics, worn under shrunken jumpers, with large front pockets for practical daily use.

That’s what’s impressing us about Michele: how he plucks a reference and transforms it into beautiful clothes that look easily and effortlessly stylish. He has a knack for knowing what excites the consumer and he delivers it with his own whimsical twist each season. And this season is no different.

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