Gucci's Spring 2020 show, its first as a carbon-neutral brand, was a true sartorial rollercoaster ride that kept audience members guessing. Guests entered a hypnotic, deep red space that kept them on the edge of their seats. When the show began, the light shifted to more of a greenish-white as a band of 60 models came down the conveyor belt of a runway. Eerily, the cast never took a step as they exhibited a range of clean white looks, resembling prison uniforms with their bulky, standardised proportions and, in some cases, straitjacket references.
In a show by a brand that's become so eccentric thanks to creative director Alessandro Michele, the strange choice didn't exactly seem beyond possibility, but it also varied drastically from Gucci's normally colourful, eclectic collections. The room was beginning to wonder if Michele had lost his mind, taking too literally the campaign against excess that has made its way across Milan this season through brands like Prada.
Just then a (naturally, aesthetically pleasing) short circuit blew up everything. The space went dark for a minute, then got brighter as a female voice, which had previously been musing on standardisation and normalcy, echoed: "This is the way to do it". Then, a colourful and diverse range of looks emerged, the models this time walking as they exhibited aesthetics that display personality but are incredibly wearable.
The collection started with various combinations of tight-fitting tops and long, high-slit skirts, then evolved into tailoring that instantly catches the eye with its colour, silhouette, and material, just as with the line's practical but still pleasing midi and maxi dresses. Gucci did practical fashion its way. The brand has changed pace from the past with its intelligence and irony, but despite the wildly avant-garde and theoretical nature of Michele's collections, the pieces have proven to be a hit and easily fit into a modern wardrobe. Hats off.
In a conceptual show about subjectification and bio-politics, with the hope of arguing for a more individualised new normal, the jarring nature of this show appears to be exactly what Michele intended. And while it didn't have the same type of shock factor as a few seasons ago, when several models walked down the runway carrying artistic versions of their own heads, it still made a statement that got A$AP Rocky and Lou Doillon nodding theirs.