Gucci: Until They Start Afresh

In the mean time, trashy will do

If there is any brand in need of evidence that a house cannot be without a creative director, they should look at Gucci. The autumn/winter 2023 collection, shown earlier, was put together by the members of the design studio. They took the customary bow at the end of the show. Did 21 of them—a motley bunch with different tastes—sense, as we did, that this was not the roaring applause that Gucci usually received? Thirty minutes after the livestream, we were still in a state of disbelief. To be certain that we were not over-reacting, we showed some screen shots to a Gucci fan. She didn’t conceal her shock: “Eeeee… where got Gucci like that, one?” We, too, wondered. We’ll be the first to admit that after Alessandro Michele’s first few season, after he became too sure of himself and too carried away with the collections, we lost any sense of joy in his collections, even when the rest of the world raved and raved, and raved. But, this was exceptionally… bad.

We know, of course, that Gucci will have a new CD on board. Nothing could be gleaned from the latest show that could inform us what Sabato De Sarno will bring to the house. Mr De Sarno, whose appointment was announced just a month ago, would not be presenting his debut collection until September, during the fall season. Or, as Kering said earlier, until he has “completed all his obligations”. Eager press reports already excitedly proclaimed that “a new era at Gucci has begun”. So what was it that we saw; what was that really about? Why did Gucci even bother with this show? Could they not have skipped a season? Take a clean break? Do these tawdry clothes deserve a runway or would they be better placed in a Sam Smith music video? Or was Gucci hoping that a bevy of influencers, placed in the middle of the show space in two circular pits, would give the clothes the approval/endorsement needed? The opening look—a tiny metallic-chain bra sporting the brand’s interlocking Gs, worn with a long, slim, black skirt, made less of a hobble with a gaping slit in the rear—immediately raised that question and others. But by the end of the show, there was no answer.

It is hard to imagine that this would be expected of Mr De Sarno, whose credentials include roles at Prada and current work at Valentino. We like to think that the startling level of tackiness is the result of the lack of leadership. That was why sleazy dresses in the vein of the naked dress presided. Or why a strapped bandeau had to show the wearer’s nipples. Or, why indeed there were so many sheer these and those. Try imagining Harry Styles in any of these dresses. And, appear on another cover of Vogue. To be sure, Alessandro Michele did not stay clear of the diaphanous, but it was not this crude. If the transitional team attempted something more conservative and tailored, the effect was a pathetic imitation of early Balenciaga under the then newly celebrated Demna Gvasalia. Or Louis Vuitton when an odd panier skirt curiosity appeared. Editing, always advantageous when design output is rojak, somehow stayed elsewhere.

It appeared that Gucci was keeping the spirit, if not legacy of Mr Michele alive, even if his departure was what they needed to reinvigorate the brand. No palate cleanser in the offering. Cheap-looking pervaded. With such a meretricious collection, it seriously boggled the mind how these clothes will sell out. Or in sufficient numbers to justify their existence. With these pieces, can they really drive the droves to the their stores, now increasingly missing the front-door queues? Perhaps Gucci was hoping that the accessories would be crowd-pullers, as they have been, and sell like the proverbial hot cakes. But what was exceptional? Or investment-worthy? The clutch with the oversized horse-bit strap? The massive and furry boots? The gloves that covered only the fingers? The earrings that were so long that they were knee-dusters? Perhaps even the hosiery? For now, we’ll just say pass.

Screen shot (top) and photos: Gucci