Gucci is arguably the hottest fashion house in the world at the moment, as designer Alessandro Michele continues to send out eccentric collections that are genderless and cross-cultural and just plain mad.
The latest show this week was probably the craziest and creepiest ever, models clutching replicas of their own heads and baby dragons, sporting monobrows and balaclavas and lace and wacky glasses and ugly shoes.
No model was spared, and if they looked half presentable, three or four styling tricks were piled on top until they looked like a mix of Frankenstein’s monster and an animated bag of dress-up clothes.
Michele was apparently influenced by the enormous social changes created by the information age and was quoted as saying, “We exist to reproduce ourselves, but we have moved on. We are in a post-human era, for sure; it is under way … Now, we have to decide what we want to be.”
That is a great attitude. It is liberating that the fashion influencers have decided rules do not and should not exist. Gucci is currently selling up a storm, so Michele’s imaginative and often exquisite offerings are definitely hitting the mark (and spawning a whole lot of terrible copies).
I wonder though, whether amongst this creative chaos a lot of consumers are very confused. Because we are human and humans often like to be comfortable, and look presentable and not too try hard.
You have to be a pretty astute fashion editor or a very, very cool club kid to be able to dissect what you could possibly wear from the Gucci collection that wouldn’t make you look like you shop exclusively at St Vinnies. It’s a fine line between looking ‘in the know’ and completely and utterly clueless.
The most stylish fashion leaders mix cleverly-chosen vintage with designer, high-end with low end, and pull references from around the world. Head-to-toe looks are considered boring and personal flair is everything. But as a former magazine editor I know most consumers do not possess this sort of bowerbird confidence.
They want something unassuming to wear to work, a dress for their sister’s wedding.
With all the choice – startup fashion boutiques and ecommerce offerings and hundreds and thousands of “influencers” with their blogs and Instagrams – a lot of men and women are just bewildered. It is not particularly helpful if a shopper asks you what is on trend at the moment and you say: “Everything. Whatever you reckon.”
Retail is difficult, and fashion is suffering, but it may be that the sheer, un-edited amount of choice is contributing to the malaise. I received an email from a fashion retailer I follow that had 474 styles of dresses to choose from.
Long, short, tight, frilly, asymmetric, prairie, floral, sexy. Maybe I should just take a cue from Gucci and wear five of them. All at once.