Between Designers, Gucci Amped Up the Sex Appeal in a Brash Fall Collection in Milan

Creative director Alessandro Michele has departed. The interim show was an invigorating swerve.

Gucci's interim show between designers was divisive and rewarding. Courtesy of Gucci.

When a brand is between creative directors and in fashion limbo, the show must go on. The juggernaut must continue. Gucci’s February 24 outing, during Milan Fashion Week, was credited to its design team (all of whom emerged for the final bow). Was the Italian luxury brand’s runway a palette cleanser from departing designer Alessandro Michele or a hint at the shapes of things to come under Sabato de Sarno, prior to his September debut? Or a combination of the two? No one could call the collection boring, but the show was certainly divisive—though it had some fabulous moments.

The dichotomous Fall 2023 collection. Courtesy of Gucci.

The dichotomous Fall 2023 collection. Courtesy of Gucci.

What’s left when a brand’s figurehead—and its cult of personality—departs? What codes will be kept? Will de Sarno rip them up and start over, or reap the archives? His appointment echoes that of his predecessor. When Michele took Gucci’s reins in 2015, his promotion was seen as sidestepping the industry trend of bringing on a superstar big-name designer. But it wasn’t long before the man-behind-the-curtain proved to be a visionary and star in his own right. His romantic, retro-1970s androgyne glam reinvigorated the house, but many of the brand’s naysayers found this new version to have the sex appeal of a mud mask and curlers. It was the antithesis of Tom Ford, whose specter loomed large.

Looks from Fall 2023. Courtesy of Gucci.

Looks from Fall 2023. Courtesy of Gucci.

For Fall 2023, the design team seemed to cherry-pick elements of both designers. (Per usual, Frida Giannini was left out of the equation like Jan Brady.) A “G” pasty bikini here, an oversized nutcracker hat there. The resulting narrative was how the Gucci girl got her groove back, an erotically charged vamp through 1980s New Wave on noxiously glamorous mustard carpeting. The jarring new emphasis on sex appeal didn’t jibe with everyone. The Telegraph deemed it “sleazy and misogynistic, this was the worst Gucci show in years.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was also a breath of fresh air and a cool, offbeat hodgepodge.

A more sedate strain was also apparent in the Fall 2023 show. Courtesy of Gucci.

A more sedate direction was apparent in the Fall 2023 show. Courtesy of Gucci.

The collection marked a swing from the Michele era, but importantly, his eccentric edge remained. There was plenty of colorful faux fur, sheer fabrics, shiny moments, and distorted prom dresses. But what stands out is that the simpler the team would go, the more resounding the message—the oversized suiting and coats, skewed just enough to be out of the ordinary. Underneath all of the glitz and feathers and drama, there was a minimal streak that was very welcome to see again at the house. Who knows what direction Sabato de Sarno will take, but his new team will surely be rich in suggestions.


More Trending Stories:

Researchers in Vietnam Discovered That Two Deer Antlers Languishing in Museum Storage Are Actually 2,000-Year-Old Musical Instruments

A Photographer Who Found Instagram Fame for His Striking Portraits Has Confessed His Images Were Actually A.I.-Generated

Archaeologists on Easter Island Have Discovered a Previously Unknown Moai Statue Buried in a Dried-Out Lake Bed

Two Curators Tried to Find Out If Salvador Dalí Really Painted This Strange Seven-Foot Canvas. They Ended Up Solving an Even Bigger Mystery

Art Industry News: A California Court Revives a Lawsuit Over a ‘Disrespectful’ Marilyn Monroe Statue + Other Stories

The Dutch Are Going Wild for a Reality TV Show Where Artists Compete to Paint Vermeer’s Lost Masterpieces

What I Buy and Why: Filmmaker Ku-Ling Yurman on Her Mission to Collect Works by Women and Her Prized Jewelry Pieces

So-Called ‘Open Editions’ Are Suddenly Reigniting the Wintry NFT Market. Here’s Why They’ve Become So Popular With Collectors

Marginalia Uncovered in Leonardo’s Famous Codex Arundel Suggests the Renaissance Polymath Theorized Gravity Before Galileo

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.