It’s arguably the biggest job opening in fashion, and has been the subject of fevered speculation for months: who will take the creative reins at Gucci? Ever since Alessandro Michele exited in November following a blockbuster reign, fans and followers have had the Italian powerhouse’s Fall-Winter 2023 menswear show circled in bright red ink on their calendars. The last time there was a creative interregnum at Gucci, eight years ago, the January men’s presentation served as Michele’s coming-out party. Down to the second the lights went out on Friday at the brand’s auditorium on the outskirts of Milan, guests were swapping theories about what we were about to witness. An evolution of Michele’s romantic, maximalist vision? Or a swerve in a bold new aesthetic direction?
What happened was a little bit of both. The idea behind the collection was improvisation, according to the show notes, the first six words of which might have made a few hearts race in the audience: “Improvisation is an act of collaboration.” But no, this was not a collection molded by an outside designer brought in to impose a vibe shift, a trending strategy utilized lately at Dior and now Louis Vuitton, who have tapped Brooklyn upstart Colm Dillane of KidSuper to construct the men’s collection this season. This was a collaboration, according to the release, between the “multi-faceted creatives and craftsmen who inhabit the house of Gucci.”
The show was roughly split into two halves, based on the cut of the trousers: super wide, and then skin tight. The wide movement took the louche tailoring that Michele turned into a fashion phenomenon, and pared it back to its component parts. The opening look—a white T-shirt, huge brown trousers, and sleek boots—signaled an intent to go back to basics, the only accessories a rich oversized bag and a humble navy beanie. Blazers were tailored long and wide to balance the flowing pants, and several floor-length skirts, cut up the middle, built upon Michele’s fascination with blending gendered style codes. This was the stuff that Michele fans will slide into with ease. “It feels like the grandma’s attic aesthetic that Alessandro made so perfectly is being deconstructed, and you’re seeing the boy who went up to Grandma’s attic a little bit,” said one such fan, playwright and Gucci guy Jeremy O. Harris, following the finale.