Masks Off: The Genius Behind Gucci's Fall/Winter 2019 Collection
If the world is a stage and all of us merely actors, then being dressed in Gucci would surely be a wonderful way to express our inner monologues—at least this is what creative director, Alessandro Michele, hoped to achieve with his autumn/winter 2019 collection.
No stranger to controversy (he sent models down the runway carrying their own “heads” during the autumn/winter 2018 show in Milan), Michele’s accessories du jour this season were masks: black, marigold yellow, baby blue, fetishised, and some sporting two-inch spikes. This was an apt visual representation, given that he wanted to explore the relationship humans have with the various facets of their characters and the faces they put on. “A mask is hollow but also full,” he quipped at the press conference after the show in Milan.
Unfortunately, the Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees‑esque masks, along with the gleaming gold earpieces, will reportedly not make it to the retail floor, as they were included on the runway solely for theatrical effect. Instead, what fans can look forward to are the other “very Gucci” accessories.
We got up-close with the pieces at the preview held within a glass house at Nai Lert Park in Bangkok. The beloved Gucci sneaker—still in vogue—has been given an update in snakeskin. Strappy sandals, accompanied by lace stockings in matching monochromatic shades, made a strong colour statement, though they were sometimes styled with kitschy knee pads, subverting expectations of what is considered feminine. For women, the bags were given a vintage, boxy twist, while the definitive piece of the season for men was undoubtedly the multifunctional duffle bag, which can be carried in various ways.
In terms of clothes, this was truly a collection of contradictions. Frills and florals for one look, followed by a fierce leather ensemble; dresses with prim Pierrot collars, but with the shortest of hemlines; huge, slouchy knits and then tailored blazers with notched lapels. All of which signal, once again, the contrasts of human behaviour: modesty versus sensuality, exhibition versus inhibition, and the visible versus the invisible.
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In many ways, this collection was a departure from previous seasons. Unlike the Hollywood glamour emanating from spring/summer 2019, or the culture-clashing autumn/winter 2018, this season’s collection was far grittier and grungier. Yet, in signature Michele style—and perhaps a testament to the designer’s business savvy—the looks still have the same street style-worthy, covetable quality that have been his trademark ever since he took over the creative reins of the Italian house.
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