Forget about clothes that sit nicely on the body. Gucci is telling you to go too small or too big
It is a matter of time, isn’t it, when the oversized will share the runway with the undersized? Just like black would meet white, masculine would encounter feminine, Tarzan would make contact with Jane. Now that roomier-than-normal has gone mainstream and seems to beat the tailored fit as the look to adopt, Gucci has taken the opposite, proving that even in sizing, what goes up must come down—really down.
But Alessandro Michele did not resuscitate the baby tees of the ’90s; he actually put out clothes that appear to be too small for the wearer or didn’t grow with him. One shirt, in particular, stood out: it is so tight, it won’t button up, leaving a placket with gapes. Another, a sweater that appeared before this, is short at both the hemline of the bodice and sleeve (emblazoned across the chest, humourlessly, the words “MON PETIT”—my little, in French), exactly like those worn by the kid who grew too quickly for his clothes. Could this be fashion finally owning up to the fact that, just as there are those boys who won’t accept adult responsibilities as they mature, as identified by Dr Dan Kiley in his seminal 1983 book Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Never Grow Up, there are men who won’t don adult clothing as they age?
Either that or the clothes are too big, not in the least oversized, as we (still) see at, say, Balenciaga, but really the wrong size. Plaid shirts hang on the body as loosely as the knit vest worn over it, both with the sharpness of discards consigned to the Salvation Army, T-shirts that are too baggy, look, as the chest tells us, “impotent”; military jackets so large, the quartermaster probably wanted you to look this foolish, and jeans so much bigger than the waist, they look like part of contributions for flood victims.
It is’t immediately clear what this challenge to proper sizing might be. You sense that this is ridiculous having a fashion moment. It begs one question: how will Gucci train its sales staff to respond when a customer, emerging from the fitting room (are they necessary anymore?), asks, ”Is this my size? Is it a nice fit? Do I look good?”
Some members of the media describe this as Gucci “re-inventing masculinity”. Really? Smocked, bib-front auntie blouse on a male torso, with chest hair sprouting out of the V-shaped neckline befits the new man? In earlier days, that would have been called half-drag. And we don’t mean that as a form of shamming. Only now, with things being less (not?) binary, we somehow think a guy in a top that would look better on his primary school daughter is somehow better at representing male sartorial flair. Disruption is not necessarily fashion. And, let’s not tag this as irony; we’ve left the last decade.
Sometimes one wonders if Mr Michele’s strategy is one of mere irreverence to affect discomfiture by taking something as unremarkable as a vintage-y girl’s blouse and putting it on a grown man. Pairing they call it, but on their own, the blouse/dress—and the military-surplus-looking pants (one with hole in the left knee!) that they go with—could be found in any weekend market, from Clignancourt to Chatuchak. However clever, however hi-brow the reference, however deep in shock value (or wrecking of nerves), this is really akin to what participants of Rupaul’s Drag Race already/usually wear before the race.
This season, Mr Michelle also riffs off the late Franco Moschino who riffed off Chanel. That and, surprisingly, Marc Jacobs interpreting, well, Marc Jacobs interpreting whoever. Mr Michell is known as a godown of immeasurable reference points and a willing mixer of disparate elements, historical or not, pop or not, good or not. This autumn/winter 2020 show at Milan’s Palazzo Delle Scintille has a giant, Miley-Cyrus-missing wrecking ball of a pendulum swinging menacingly in the centre of the presentation space. What was Gucci really aiming at, but did not gain a hit?