Under Alessandro Michele, Gucci has ditched the sex and embraced the sensual. It’s even got Florence Welch on board as an ambassador. Laura McCreddie finds out how the two got together
Gucci is synonymous with sex. Under the tenure of Tom Ford, and then Frida Gianinni, it became known for taking a more risqué position on women’s fashion. Don’t forget this was a brand that got itself in hot water thanks to an ad featuring a woman’s pubic hair shaved into its iconic G logo. Prada it isn’t.
But the shock tactics got tired and Gucci took on the air of an embarrassing uncle making lewd comments at a family party.
Enter Alessandro Michele in 2015. This little-known name was announced as the brand’s creative director after Giannini’s sudden departure and a different type of Gucci began to emerge. Gone was the 90s seductress and in her place was the velvet-suited, bespectacled chic geek.
Sexy was out and sensuality was in; a move perfectly symbolised by the announcement of Florence Welch as the brand’s watch and jewellery ambassador.
“Like me, Alessandro is drawn to shapes and silhouettes that aren’t technically sexy,” she explains. “He’s subverting all that in a really interesting day. There’s a whole masculine/feminine thing going on that I’m drawn to as well.”
Michele and Welch also bonded when he designed the costumes for her latest tour, a move that saw Welch leave behind her “extra from the Wicker Man” look and embrace something more structured.
“My look for Ceremonials [her 2011 album] was more glacial and a performance. I felt, with this album, the person and the performance needed to be the same thing,” says Welch. “I didn’t want to wear anything on stage I wouldn’t have worn in real life. I also wanted clothes I could eat food and dance in.”
Michele’s floral patterns and lush fabrics worked perfectly for this new incarnation of Welch, as did his jewellery and watches, which prominently feature bees. A new addition to Gucci’s iconographic lexicon, which is favoured by both Welch and is, some believe, a conduit between the worlds of the living and the dead. There’s not just bees, there’s also rings featuring tiger-mermaid chimeras and riots of blossom.
“There’s so much care and attention that goes into these pieces,” says Welch. “Everything feels like a heartfelt expression of his imagination.”
And it’s an imagination that’s given Gucci a new, and infinitely more desirable, direction.